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Search for Flight MH370 Shifts West; Interpol Says Terrorism Unlikely

World  (tags: flight MH370, Malaysia, Viet Nam, China Sea, Search and Rescue )

- 1839 days ago -
Hunt expands to area near the Strait of Malacca, on other side of Malaysia; user of one stolen passport identified


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Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 7:16 am
Photo Credit: Yeen/Getty Images

Authorities hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner expanded their search on land and sea Tuesday, reflecting the difficulties in locating traces of the plane more than three days after it vanished.

While the final location of the missing jet isn't know for sure, Malaysia's military believes it has tracked the plane by radar over the Strait of Malacca, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country's east coast, a military source told Reuters. That is on the other side of peninsular Malaysia from where flight 370 was reported missing, meaning if the plane went down there it would have had to fly over the country, presumably undetected.

"It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait," the military official, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters.

Recovering debris from the plane is vital to finding out what caused it to go missing and to prevent a repeat, as well as providing some closure for the families of passengers on board. In the absence of evidence, speculation over possible causes ranges widely.

During a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, a security official said that one of the stolen passports was used by a 19-year old Iranian citizen named Puria Nour Mohammad Mehrat, who is "not likely to be a part of a terrorist group." The authorities said he was thought to be trying to immigrate to Germany. The authorities said they are still conducting their investigation on the other person who used a stolen passport.

Iranian officials on Tuesday pledged to help investigate the backgrounds of the two citizens.

Interpol's chief said on Tuesday that they were increasingly skeptical that the plane may have been brought down by an attack of some kind.

"The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble.

Malaysian authorities said that they were looking into as many scenarios as possible.

"Maybe somebody on the flight has bought a huge sum of insurance, who wants family to gain from it or somebody who has owed somebody so much money, you know, we are looking at all possibilities," Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said.

The Boeing 777 had 239 people on board when it vanished off radar screens early Saturday morning en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, triggering a massive international search effort.

Authorities began their hunt at the point the plane was last known to be, a spot in the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam. With no debris found, they have systematically expanded their search to include areas where the plane could have in theory ended up given the amount of fuel it had on board.

Vietnamese planes and ships are a major component of the international search and rescue effort.

Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnamese People's Army, said authorities on land had also been ordered to search for the plane, which could have crashed into mountains or uninhabited jungle. He said that military units near the border with Laos and Cambodia had been instructed to search their regions also.

"So far we have found no signs (of the plane) ... so we must widen our search on land," he said.

On Sunday, Malaysia Airlines said it was "fearing the worst," and the government said it was investigating four passengers who may have held false identity documents.

Malaysian investigators are checking the identities of four passengers on the missing flight but have not yet determined if the plane was downed by an attack, Defense Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said.

Malaysia's state news agency quoted Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying the passengers using the stolen European passports were Asian in appearance and criticizing border officials who let them through.

The passenger manifest issued by the airline included the names of two Europeans who were not on the plane, according to their foreign ministries, because their passports had been lost or stolen.

Al Jazeera and Wire services |

From BBC World News: Malaysia Airlines MH370: Plane 'Changed Course'
---Military radar suggests the missing Malaysia Airlines plane turned west, away from its planned route, before vanishing, Malaysia's air force says.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 7:17 am

I do realize that this is not good news because the flight MH 370 still has not been found. This is however, the latest news from this morning.

Evelyn B (63)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 7:36 am
My heart goes out to the relatives & friends of those on board - terrible time of hope and fear

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 8:05 am
This is so BIZARRE. How does a plane just disappear??

Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 8:24 am

That is the question, Natasha. One of the largest passenger jet planes and from years of trials and tests, we do know that even with a highly intense explosion, there are at least small fragments and the Black Box beacon will go on sending signals. I do hope something is resolved very quickly, for the sake of the family and friends of the passengers, we need some answers. Though to be fair, it does seem that search and rescue are searching in all possible locations.

One point I find interesting and curious, these planes do not have a GPS system. The ATC and Black Box were considered all the redundancy necessary.

Pat B (356)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 2:47 pm
Very scary.!! I send my sympathies to all the families involved in this sad incident. Thanks, Kit for the update.

Roger G (148)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 3:47 pm
noted, thanks

Barbara K (61)
Tuesday March 11, 2014, 3:57 pm
I truly hope they find the plane and soon, so families can have answers. It is truly a mystery at this point; and I sincerely feel so bad for the families of the passengers and crew aboard the flight.

JL A (281)
Wednesday March 12, 2014, 5:05 pm
This is beginning to sound like stories of aircraft in the Bermuda Triangle.

Past Member (0)
Friday March 14, 2014, 3:43 am
If this was the 70's we'd be considering alien intervention by now.
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