Tag Archives: Interpol

Malaysia Airlines jet disappearance an ‘unprecedented aviation mystery’

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A helicopter prepares to land on board the China Maritime Safety Administration ship Haixun-31 in southern China’s Hainan province Sunday, March 9. The ship is expected to join an ongoing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines’ passenger plane that vanished on Saturday. (The Associated Press)

Updated :

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A Vietnam rescue team sent to investigate a “yellow object” floating in Vietnam’s waters said it is not a life raft from a Malaysian plane that went missing with 239 people aboard.

Earlier Monday a minister said Vietnam has scrambled rescue helicopters to check the object.

A Vietnamese jet had seen the object earlier on Monday but was unable to get close enough to determine what it was, Pham Quy Tieu, Vice Transport Minister and deputy head of the country’s rescue committee, told Reuters.

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The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said on its website searches were being conducted about 140 kilometres southwest of Tho Chu island, which is located about 200 kilometres off the coast of southern Vietnam.

‘Unprecedented aviation mystery’

The disappearance of the jetliner is an “unprecedented aviation mystery”, a senior official said on Monday, with a massive air and sea search now in its third day failing to find any confirmed trace of the plane or 239 people aboard.

The head of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said a hijacking could not be ruled out as investigators explore all theories for the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route to Beijing.

“Unfortunately we have not found anything that appears to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft,” he told a news conference.

“As far as we are concerned, we have to find the aircraft, we have to find a piece of the aircraft if possible.”

As dozens of ships and aircraft from seven countries scour the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam, questions mounted over possible security lapses and whether a bomb or hijacking could have brought down the Boeing airliner.

Interpol confirmed on Sunday at least two passengers used stolen passports and said it was checking whether others aboard had used false identity documents.

Flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, after climbing to a cruising altitude of 10,670 metres.

A Vietnamese navy plane reported seeing what could have been a piece of the aircraft as darkness fell across the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea on Sunday, but ships and aircraft returning in daylight have so far found nothing.

malaysia-airlines-map

Underlining the lack of hard information about the plane’s fate, a U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft capable of covering nearly 3,900 square kilometres every hour was sweeping the northern part of the Strait of Malacca on Monday, on the other side of the Malay peninsula from where the last contact with MH370 was made.

“Our aircraft are able to clearly detect small debris in the water, but so far it has all been trash or wood,” said U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman Commander William Marks in an emailed statement.

Shares in Malaysia Airlines fell as much as 18 per cent to a record low on Monday morning.

No distress signal

No distress signal was sent from the lost plane, which experts said suggested a sudden catastrophic failure or explosion, but Malaysia’s air force chief said radar tracking showed it may have turned back from its scheduled route before it disappeared.

A senior source involved in preliminary investigations in Malaysia said the failure to quickly find any debris indicated the plane may have broken up mid-flight, which could disperse wreckage over a very wide area.

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“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” said the source.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and that the aircraft could have broken up due to mechanical causes.

Still, the source said the closest parallels were the explosion on board an Air India jetliner in 1985 when it was over the Atlantic Ocean and the Lockerbie air disaster in 1988. Both planes were cruising at around 9,500 metres when bombs exploded on board.

The United States extensively reviewed imagery taken by American spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but saw none, a U.S. government source said. The source described U.S. satellite coverage of the region as thorough.

Boeing declined to comment and referred to its brief earlier statement that said it was monitoring the situation.

The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any commercial aircraft in service. Its only previous fatal crash came on July 6 last year when Asiana Airlines flight 214 struck a seawall on landing in San Francisco, killing three people.

Stolen passports investigated

About two-thirds of the 227 passengers and 12 crew now presumed to have died aboard the plane were Chinese. The airline said other nationalities included 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French, three Americans and two Canadians.

The passenger manifest issued by the airline included the names of two Europeans – Austrian Christian Kozel and Italian Luigi Maraldi – who were not on the plane. Their passports had been stolen in Thailand during the past two years.

An Interpol spokeswoman said a check of all documents used to board the plane had revealed more “suspect passports”, which were being investigated.

“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,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said.

Malaysia’s state news agency quoted Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying the two passengers using the stolen European passports were of Asian appearance, and criticised the border officials who let them through.

“I am still perturbed. Can’t these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian, but with Asian faces,” he was quoted as saying late on Sunday.

A European diplomat in Kuala Lumpur cautioned that the Malaysian capital was an Asian hub for illegal migrants, many of whom used false documents and complex routes including via Beijing or West Africa to reach a final destination in Europe.

“You shouldn’t automatically think that the fact there were two people on the plane with false passports had anything to do with the disappearance of the plane,” the diplomat said.

“The more you know about the role of Kuala Lumpur in this chain, the more doubtful you are of the chances of a linkage.”

via Malaysia Airlines jet disappearance an ‘unprecedented aviation mystery’ – World – CBC News.

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Malaysia launches terror probe over missing plane, debris may be spotted

Passengers queue up for customs checks at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang March 9, 2014

Malaysia has launched a terror attack probe into the disappearance of the passenger plane carrying 239 people, which vanished from radars en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early Saturday.

Malaysian authorities are checking CCTV footage at the airport and investigating the identities of four passengers, at least two of whom got on the flight using stolen passports.

At this point, no further developments regarding MH370 has been confirmed. We are waiting for new updates from DCA on the SAR efforts.

Malaysia Airlines (@MAS) March 9, 2014

The country’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said airport security procedures were being reviewed.

“We will enhance them if necessary, because we still do not know the cause of the incident,” he told reporters, Reuters cited.

Meanwhile, Interpol is “examining additional suspect passports.”

The agency confirmed on Sunday that at least two passports – an Austrian and Italian – recorded in its database were used by passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. Both passports were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and 2013 respectively, the agency said in a statement.

No checks of the stolen passports were made by any country between the time they were entered into Interpol’s database and the departure of flight MH 370, according to Interpol. Therefore, Interpol said, it is currently unable to determine on how many other occasions these passports were used to board flights or cross borders.

“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 Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, the agency’s press service reports.

As the search for the missing Boeing 777 continues – with a total of 40 ships and 22 aircraft from an array of countries including China and the US involved – Interpol criticized loose security measures at international airports.

“For years Interpol has asked why should countries wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates,” said Noble. “Now, we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists,” the agency said, adding that it would like to know why“only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights.”

Hunt for debris, ‘mid-air disintegration’ suspicions

Almost two days after the flight MH370 lost touch with Subang Air Traffic Control, no wreckage has been found.

On Sunday, a floating object was spotted 100km south-southwest of Vietnam’s Tho Chu island. However, Vietnamese vessels sent to the site discovered it was not wreckage from the missing flight.

#MH370 Vietnam search and rescue aircraft spotted new floating object. Authorities are not sure what it is. pic.twitter.com/m0peec6DVm

— Vu Trong Khanh (@TrongKhanhVu) March 9, 2014

Soon after, Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority said a navy plane found parts suspected of belonging to the missing jet. But it was too dark to be certain so officials are waiting until daylight in Vietnam to send more aircraft.

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” a source involved in the investigations in Malaysia, told Reuters.

Meanwhile, China has sent two more navy ships to join the search, reported China Central Television. Earlier, the US was also reported to have dispatched additional aircraft.

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