Missing Malaysia Airlines: Passengers with stolen passports had Asian features


Boeing-777Kuala Lumpur: Two days after a Malaysian Airlines jet disappeared mysteriously over South China Sea, the fate of the missing plane remained a mystery on Monday, with Malaysian aviation chief calling it an “unprecedented aviation mystery”, adding that a possible hijack couldn’t be ruled out.

The Director General of Malaysian Civil Aviation Department also discounted reports that the Vietnamese Navy aircraft had found the debris thought to be the missing jet’s door.

However, despite the Vietnamese Navy today rushed rescue choppers to close in on a “yellow” debris, which they now presume, might be a life raft from the missing jet, Reuters reported.

Earlier, Vietnamese Navy said that it had on Sunday afternoon stumbled upon the debris of the Boeing 777 jet in sea, about 56 miles south of Tho Chu island in Vietnam.

The officials from the Vietnam said that the debris was thought to be the door of the jet, which the investigators presume, might have crashed mid-air.

However, the investigators couldn’t confirm the ‘debris’ as the darkness descended late Sunday night.

Speaking to reporters, the Director General of Malaysian Civil Aviation department Azharuddin Abdul Rahman sounded clueless saying, no parts of the missing plane were found yet.

“There are various objects that we have seen, but none of them at this moment have been confirmed to be from this aircraft,” he said.

He added that the possibility of a hijack couldn’t be ruled out as at least five passengers, who had purchased ticket and checked their baggage in, didn’t board the flight MH370.

“But we have to remove the baggage that they checked in,” he said.

“We are looking at all angles as to what happened to the plane…We are going through all records, all video footage to see who the passengers are,” said Rahmnan.

He added that the oil slicks discovered yesterday would be tested in lab to confirm if it belongs to the fuel tankers of the missing jet that might have crashed mid-air.

The Vietnamese Navy said that it had spotted the debris in the same area where it had discovered oil slicks stretching between six and nine miles off Vietnam coast.

Meanwhile, given the seriousness of the situation in wake of the missing jet, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has decided to postpone his official visit to the Republic of Mauritius, which was scheduled to take place from March 11 to 13.

“Search and rescue operations for MH370 are the government’s utmost priority at this difficult time,” a spokesman said in the statement.

The Beijing-bound Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on Saturday over the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam after it lost contact with the ground controllers at 1:30 am on that fateful day.

Yesterday, it was suggested that the plane may have made a turn-back towards Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian Air Force chief told a news conference that a recording from the military radar suggested the turn-back of the jet.

“There is a distinct possibility the airplane did a turn-back, deviating from the course,” said General Rodzali Daud.

An intensified international search and rescue operation was launched on Sunday with 40 ships and 34 planes being roped in to hunt for the missing Boeing 777 jet, which disappeared mysteriously with 239 people on board.

Malaysian Airlines also tweeted that it was coordinating with the representatives of Chinese government in order to maintain a smooth flow of information.
However hope continued to fade as despite two days of frantic search, the investigators have very less clue to what might have happened to the plane.

In a statement yesterday, the Malaysian Airlines said that it was “fearing for the worst” and had roped in a disaster recovery management specialist from Atlanta, USA to aid in the SAR mission.

The mystery only deepened with the revelation that at least two people were travelling on tickets purchased on fake passports.

Malaysian Transport Minister yesterday told a news conference that the visuals of those, two who had stolen passports, were available on CCTV and the footage was being examined.

“We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board,” Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

Counter-terrorism agencies and the FBI are also assisting the investigation. Interpol yesterday confirmed that the stolen passports were that of an Austrian and an Italian.

However, the CCTV footage hints that the passengers who travelled on stolen passports had “Asian facial features.

“I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think, an Italian and Austrian (passengers) but with Asian facial features,” reports quoted Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying.

There were people from 14 nations travelling on board, with the two-third of the passengers being of Chinese nationality.