• Breaking News

    Sunday, March 9, 2014

    Two aboard missing Malaysia Airlines jet traveling with stolen passports

    Tobapos -- Two people aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 were traveling with passports reported stolen in Thailand, foreign ministry officials in Italy and Austria said.

    Italy’s Foreign Ministry said that an Italian man, Luigi Maraldi, who was listed as being a passenger aboard the aircraft that was carrying 239 people, reported his passport stolen last August.

    The Austrian Foreign Ministry also confirmed that a name listed on the official manifest matched an Austrian passport reported stolen two years ago in Thailand, and that the Austrian was not on the plane but would not release his name.

    A U.S. official told Fox News that a key priority is clarifying the status of the passports, whether they were lost or stolen, and determining through airport security screening and video who got exactly got on the flight under those names.

    The plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants and 12 crew members when it “lost all contact,” with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2:40 a.m., two hours into the flight, the airline said. The plane was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

    The airline said there were 152 passengers from China, 38 from Malaysia, seven from Indonesia, six from Australia, five from India and three from the U.S. and others from Indonesia, France, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands.

    The U.S. State Department later confirmed in a statement that three Americans were aboard the jetliner.

    Vietnamese air force planes spotted two large oil slicks late Saturday in the first sign that the aircraft had crashed. The slicks were each between 6 miles and 9 miles long, the Vietnamese government said in a statement.

    There was no confirmation that the slicks were related to the missing plane, but the statement said they were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner.

    Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari said there was no indication that the pilots had sent a distress signal, suggesting that whatever happened to the plane occurred quickly and possibly catastrophically.

    The lack of a radio call "suggests something very sudden and very violent happened," said William Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz.

    The air force planes were part of a multinational search operation launched after Flight MH370 fell off radar screens less than an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur.

    Malaysia had dispatched 15 planes and nine ships to the area. The U.S. Navy sent a warship, the USS Pickney, which was conducting training and maritime security operations off the South China Sea.

    The guided-missile destroyer is carrying two MH-60R helicopters that can be equipped for search and rescue efforts. The U.S. is also sending a surveillance plane, while Singapore said it would send a submarine and a plane. China and Vietnam were also sending aircraft to help in the search, though the air search was suspended for the night and was to resume Sunday morning. The sea search is ongoing, Malaysia Airlines said.

    It is not uncommon for it to take several days to find the wreckage of an aircraft floating on the ocean. Locating and then recovering the flight data recorders, vital to any investigation, can take months or even years.

    The airline said in a statement that it is currently notifying next-of-kin about the situation. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," Yahya said.

    Asked whether terrorism was suspected, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said, "We are looking at all possibilities, but it is too early to make any conclusive remarks."

    "We are extremely worried,'' Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. "We are doing all we can to get details. The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe."

    Vietnamese website VN Express said a Vietnamese search and rescue official reported that signals from the plane were detected about 140 miles southwest of Vietnam's southernmost Ca Mau province. A Vietnam rescue official later denied the report.

    "We have been seeking but no signal from the plane yet," Pham Hien, director of a Vietnam maritime search and rescue coordination center in Vung Tau, told Reuters.

    China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported the plane was lost in airspace controlled by Vietnam, and never made contact with Chinese air traffic controllers. There have been no reports of a plane crashing into Chinese waters, and China is assisting the airline in its search for the plane. 

    Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also denied a Vietnamese state media report that the plane had crashed off south Vietnam, saying the government had not identified a crash scene.

    The plane "lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam's air traffic control," Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, said in a statement issued by the government. 

    The airline says the plane's pilot is Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old who has been with the airline for over 30 years. The plane's first officer is Fariq Ab.Hamid, a 27-year-old who joined the airline in 2007. Both are Malaysians.

    At Beijing's airport, authorities posted a notice asking relatives and friends of passengers to gather at a hotel about nine miles from the airport to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service. A woman wept aboard the shuttle bus while saying on a mobile phone, "They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good!"

    Zhai Le was waiting for her friends, a couple, who were on their way back to the Chinese capital on the flight. She said she was very concerned because she hadn't been able to reach them.

    Relatives and friends of passengers were escorted into a private area at the Lido Hotel, and reporters were kept away. A man in a gray hooded sweatshirt later stormed out complaining about a lack of information. The man, who said he was a Beijing resident but declined to give his name, said he was anxious because his mother was on board the flight with a group of 10 tourists.

    "We have been waiting for hours," he said. "And there is still no verification."

    In Kuala Lumpur, family members gathered at the airport, but were kept away from reporters.

    "Our team is currently calling the next of kin passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," Jauhair, said.

    "Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passnegers and crew and their family members," he said.

    Fuad Sharuji, Malaysia Airlines' vice president of operations control told CNN that the plane was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet when it disappeared  (foxnews/adm)

    1 comment:

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