Flight MH370 Live Blog
The search continues for the plane that went missing between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing with 239 people on board.
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Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished on Saturday with 239 people on board.No distress message was sent from the plane, and no wreckage has been found.The aircraft may have turned back from its scheduled route before vanishing from radar screens, military officers said on Sunday, Suspicions that the jet may have been hijacked or bombed have risen after at least two passengers were found to be using stolen passports, but authorities stress that all possibilities are being investigated.About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese.
The pilot of the missing jet enjoyed flying the Boeing 777 so much that he spent his off days tinkering with a flight simulator of the plane that he had set up at home, current and former co-workers said.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, joined the national carrier in 1981. Airline staff who worked with the pilot said he knew the ins and outs of the Boeing 777 extremely well, as he was always practicing with the simulator.
Pictures posted by Zaharie on his Facebook page show a simulator with three computer monitors, a tangle of wires and several panels.
"We used to tease him. We would ask him, why are you bringing your work home," said a pilot who knew Zaharie for 20 years.
The flight had a crew of 12, all from Malaysia.
Passengers on the popular business and tourist route were mostly from China and Malaysia, along with people from India, France, Australia, Indonesia, Ukraine, and other countries.
Interpol has confirmed that at least two passports – Austrian and Italian – recorded in its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database were used by passengers on board the missing plane.
“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol's databases,” said Interpol Secretary-General Ronald K Noble.
“What is important at the moment is to find out what caused Malaysian Airways flight 370 to go missing, and in this regard Interpol is making all needed resources available to help relevant authorities in Malaysia and elsewhere find out what happened. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the families, loved ones and friends of the 239 passengers and crew on board.”
In a press release, Interpol expressed concern that the passports were not checked against the international police body's data base. It said that last year, passengers were able to board planes more than a billion times without having their passports screened against Interpol's databases.
“Now, we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists, while Interpol is asking why only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights.”
Al Jazeera's Rob McBride reports from Beijing Airport, where relatives of passengers on the plane are waiting anxiously for news.
After it emerged that two people boarded the flight with stolen European passports, Malaysia's transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said authorities were examining CCTV footage of the two.
"We have managed to get visuals of them," he said, adding that Malaysia was liaising with other countries' intelligence agencies on the findings.
Relatives waiting in Beijing Airport are lashing out at airline officials over the lack of information, and are demanding assistance from the Chinese government.
Malaysia Airlines has offered to fly close relatives of Chinese passengers to Kuala Lumpur. The first such flight will depart on Tuesday, according to airline official Hugh Dunleavy.
"We will try to speed up the visa process and make sure the closest family members will board the first flight," China Daily quoted Dunleavy as saying.
Al Jazeera's Florence Looi reports from Kuala Lumpur on the latest in the search for the plane.
Family members of American citizen Philip Wood, a 50-year-old IBM executive who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, said they saw him a week ago when he visited them in Texas after relocating to Kuala Lumpur from Beijing, where he had worked for two years.
"He is outgoing, gregarious, friendly, loving", said his brother James Wood, adding that his brother loved to travel and that the family would "get emails about him being all over the place."
His other brother, Tom, said he was not giving up hope of finding him.
"I'm not going to close that door until we need to close it completely."
A steady stream of friends and family are visiting and offering support to the Wood's family.
Many brought baskets of food.
Philip Wood is one of three Americans on board the missing Boeing-777 plane which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members when it disappeared on Saturday morning.
He is divorced with two grown-up sons.
One attends Texas University and that another is an alumnus of that university.
The other two Americans were identified on the passenger manifest as 4-year-old Nicole Meng and 2-year-old Yan Zhang.
It was not known with whom they were travelling with.
More than two days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, the final minutes before its disappearance still remain a mystery.
The plane on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam
A Vietnamese navy plane has spotted an object suspected of belonging to the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Malaysian investigators say Vietnamese authorities have not confirmed debris came from the missing plane.
Chief Malaysian investigator says they "remain puzzled" over plane's whereabouts.
"All night we mobilised our most modern equipment for the search... but we found no sign of the objects. Two boats left this morning to patrol all maritime zones around Tho Chu Island where we discovered the two objects."
Vice Admiral Ngo Van Phat told AFP
- No signal has been detected by any ship since the aircraft went missing.
- All possibilities are still being investigated.
- Aircraft are being directed in such a way that they will not miss any stretch of water.
Little information available on the passengers because they are under investigation.
Scott Heidler reporting from Kuala Lumpur:
"Some of the items found in the water turned out to be nothing. Most recently though, the Vietnamese saw something they believed to be part of a door. That has not been verified yet.
"The oil slicks have not been verified as being part of the craft. it is being analysed right now as to if it could be from an aircraft.
"Some things have been written off and some are still to be verified. They are not going to make any determination until they have hard evidence."
The disappearance of the Malaysian Airline System (MAS) jet could dent the national carrier's plan to return to profit by end-2014, equity analysts said.
"We do not discount the possibly of changes to MAS top management, given the existing disappointing financial results and the severity of the current incident."
Chinese media hits out at Malaysian authorities:
China's state-run media on Monday lashed out at Malaysia and its national carrier over their handling of the missing passenger jet, calling for a swifter response effort and tightened airport security.
"The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities. The initial response from Malaysia was not swift enough. There are loopholes in the work of Malaysia Airlines and security authorities."
The Global Times
Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, has postponed his official visit to the Republic of Mauritius, which was scheduled to take place from 11 to 13 March, saying that search and rescue operations for MH370 are the government's priority at this difficult time.
Nothing found has been confirmed as being part of the missing aircraft as the search continues:
[Picture credits: Reuters]
Families of missing airliner victims continue to worry
The two men who used stolen passports to board the jetliner were not of Asian appearance, the chief Malaysian investigator said.
He also said an oil slick suspected of coming from the wreckage was not jet fuel, confirming another false lead.
More details on the stolen passports used by two passengers:
Passports belonging to Austrian Christian Kozel and Luigi Maraldi of Italy were entered into Interpol's database after they were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and last year, the police body said.
Electronic booking records show that one-way tickets with those names were issued Thursday from a travel agency in the beach resort of Pattaya in eastern Thailand.
Thai police Col. Supachai Phuykaeokam said those reservations were placed with the agency by a second travel agency in Pattaya, which told police it had received the bookings from a China Southern Airlines office in Bangkok.
A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline confirmed Sunday that passengers named Maraldi and Kozel had been booked on one-way tickets on the same KLM flight, flying from Beijing to Amsterdam on Saturday. Maraldi was to fly on to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany.
As holders of EU passports with onward flights to Europe, the passengers would not have needed visas for China.
Authorities say two men who used stolen passports to travel on the plane may have been involved in a stolen-passport ring based out of Thailand. Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Pattaya.
The US navy has sent a second ship to the South China Sea to help in the search for the jet.
At least 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries are searching a 50-nautical mile radius from the point the plane vanished, but the only finds have been false alarms - a yellow object spotted by a search plane turned out to be trash, and oil slicks were shown to not be from an aircraft.
Thai police and Interpol officers have questioned the owners of the travel agency that sold tickets for the two travellers with stolen passports.
Police Lt. Col. Ratchthapong Tia-sood said the travel agency was contacted by an Iranian man known only as "Mr Ali" to book the tickets for the two men.
"We have to look further into this Mr Ali's identity because it's almost a tradition to use an alias
when doing business around here,'' he said.
The travel agency's owner, Benjaporn Krutnait, told The Financial Times she believed Mr Ali was not
connected to terrorism because he had asked for cheapest tickets to Europe and did not specify the Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight.
The third day of the search has come to an end without any signs of the jet. Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports from Kuala Lumpur.
The search area for a missing jetliner has expanded with Malaysian Airlines saying the western coast of the country is now the focus of the hunt.
That is on the other side of Malaysia from where flight MH370 was reported missing.
International school students light candles to pray for passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Zhuji, Zhejiang province:
Unlikely to be a terror link with one man flying on stolen passport:
Malaysia military believes it tracked missing plane on radar to the Strait of Malaca, Reuters reports.
Iran offers help with probe into missing Malaysian airliner:
Iran offered its assistance Tuesday with a Malaysian investigation into two of its nationals believed to have been travelling on stolen passports on an airliner missing for days.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Iran was "following up on reports regarding the possibility of two Iranian passengers aboard the plane."
She said Iran would provide any information on the Iranians and their status within Iran as soon as it was known.
Interpol chief says terrorism unlikely:
The head of international police agency Interpol said on Tuesday he did not believe the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane at the weekend was a terrorist incident.
"The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident."
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble.
Terrorism not ruled out
CIA Director John Brennan says there have been "some claims of responsibility" over the missing jet that had "not been confirmed or corroborated," and that he could not exclude the possibility of a terror link.
Swedish police are investigating claims that one of the passengers using stolen passports was on his way to Sweden.
A relative of Iranian Delavar Seyedmohammaderza said the 29-year-old was planning to apply for asylum in the city of Malmo, according to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.
US firm DigitalGlobe Inc has put crowdsourcing to work in the search for the plane, inviting internet users to comb through satellite images of over 3,200 square km of seawater for any sign of wreckage.
The company said on its website that it was handling an "unprecedented level of web traffic" after it published its call for volunteers.
"We have new imagery collections planned for today and hope to make those images available online for the crowd as soon as possible," DigitalGlobe Inc said.
Al Jazeera's Florence Looi has the latest from Kuala Lumpur.
The RMAF Chief quoted by the local media has categorically denied the comments attributed to him and says he was misquoted. His full statement is below. He says that what he said was that the RMAF had not ruled out the possibility of an air turn back and that resulted in the search and rescue operation being widened to the vicinity of the waters of Pulau Pinang.
Official statement by Chief of Royal Malaysian Air Force on Berita Harian news article dated 11th March 2014 on search and rescue operations in the straits of Malacca
1. I refer to the Berita Harian news article dated 11th March 2014 on Search and Rescue Operations in the Straits of Malacca which (in Bahasa Malaysia) referred to me as making the following statements:
The RMAF Chief confirmed that RMAF Butterworth airbase detected the location signal of the airliner as indicating that it turned back from its original heading to the direction of Kota Bahru, Kelantan, and was believed to have pass through the airspace of the East Coast of and Northern Peninsular Malaysia. The last time the plane was detected by the air control tower was in the vicinity of Pulau Perak in the Straits of Malacca at 2.40 in the morning before the signal disappeared without any
trace, he said.
2. I wish to state that I did not make any such statements as above, what occurred was that the Berita Harian journalist asked me if such an incident occurred as detailed in their story, however I did not give any answer to the question, instead what I said to the journalist was “Please
refer to the statement which I have already made on 9 March 2014, during the press conference with the Chief of Defence Force at the Sama-Sama Hotel, Kuala Lumpur International Airport”.
3. What I stated during that press conference was, The RMAF has not ruled out the possibility of an air turn back on a reciprocal heading before the aircraft vanished from the radar and this resulted in the Search and Rescue Operations being widen to the vicinity of the waters of Pulau Pinang.
4. I request this misreporting be amended and corrected to prevent further misinterpretations of what is clearly an inaccurate and incorrect report.
5. Currently the RMAF is examining and analyzing all possibilities as regards to the airliner’s flight paths subsequent to its disappearance. However for the time being, it would not be appropriate for the RMAF to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft’s flight path until a high amount
of certainty and verification is achieved. However all ongoing search operations are at the moment being conducted to cover all possible areas where the aircraft could have gone down in order to ensure no possibility is overlooked.
6. In addition, I would like to state to the media that all information and developments will be released via official statements and press conferences as soon as possible and when appropriate. Our current efforts are focused upon on finding the aircraft as soon as possible.
Here's Al Jazeera's latest story on the flight mystery. International space agencies have now joined the hunt for the missing jet. goo.gl
The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane has been expanded.Teams are now looking for it far to the north and west of its original flight path.The Boeing 777, with 239 people on board, took off on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.Malaysia's government denies its search mission is in disarray.Al Jazeera's Florence Looi from Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia retires missing plane's flight code
Malaysia Airlines says it has retired the missing jetliner's flight code as a sign of respect to the 239 passengers and crew on board.
The airline says it will no longer be using MH370 and MH371, the same codes used by the Boeing 777 that vanished from radar screens on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday.
MH370 was used for Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route and MH371 for a return flight.
Starting on Friday, Malaysia Airlines says it will use flight codes MH318 and MH319 for the same route.
Vietnam search fruitless at site where China satellite detected suspected debris
A search by two Vietnamese aircraft responding to information provided by a Chinese satellite has failed to locate objects suspected of being wreckage from a missing Malaysian airliner, a Reuters journalist on board a search plane said on Thursday.
Aircraft repeatedly circled the area over the South China Sea but were unable to detect any objects, said the journalist, who flew aboard a Antonov 26 cargo plane for three hours.
Vietnamese and Malaysian planes were scanning waters where a Chinese government agency website said a satellite had photographed three "suspicious floating objects" on Sunday.
The location was close to where the plane lost contact with air traffic control.