Missing plane may never be found

21:02, Mar 11 2014
MH370
Journalists attempt to interview a woman who is the relative of a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as she crouches on the floor crying, at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
MH370
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries, surrounded by journalists, at the Beijing Capital International Airport on March 8, 2014.
MH370
The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew lost contact with air traffic controllers early on Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the airline said in a statement.
MH370
An aerial view of an oil spill is seen from a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft in the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, 250 km from Vietnam and 190 km from Malaysia, in this handout photo from Thanh Nien Newpaper taken on March 8.
MH370
A spokesman (centre) of Malaysia Airlines is surrounded by journalists as he gives a briefing about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a hotel in Beijing March 8, 2014.
MH370
A relative (front) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she walks past journalists at a hotel in Beijing March 9, 2014. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday.
MH370
Malaysia Airlines Commercial Director Hugh Dunleavy (centre) speaks to journalists about information of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
MH370
Vietnamese Air Force officers sit in the cockpit of a search and rescue aircraft as they fly over the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
MH370
Volunteer rescue workers and religious organisations pray during multi-religion mass prayers for the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
MH370
A view of oil slicks (pale line near the bottom right) spotted in an area of the South China Sea about 100 nautical miles (185 km) from Tok Bali Beach in Malaysia's Kelantan state.
MH370
Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish, Director General of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, looks at a radar screen while searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the South China Sea.
MH370
A relative (left) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is escorted by a caregiver from Malaysia Airlines as they walk in a corridor at a hotel in Beijing.
MH370
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik applies the final touches to a sand art sculpture he created wishing for the well being of the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, on a beach in Puri, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
MH370
Life vests and lifesavers are seen onboard a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Tho Chu island.
MH370
Journalists place their recorders as they get ready for the first briefing of the day at a news conference at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 10.
MH370
Relatives of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cry inside a hotel they are staying, in Putrajaya. China has urged Malaysia to step up the search for the jetliner that went missing with 239 people on board, about two-thirds of them Chinese, and said it has sent security agents to help with an investigation into the misuse of passports.
MH370
An officer looks out of a helicopter during a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, near Tho Chu Island.
MH370
A map of a flight plan is seen on a computer screen during a meeting before a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, at Phu Quoc Airport.
MH370
A woman stands in front of a giant screen showing the number hours since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing, in Beijing on March 10.
MH370
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 waits for news at Lido Hotel on March 10, in Beijing, China. Investigative teams continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the 293 passengers that were travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
1464 MH370
Dato' Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation briefs the media over latest updates on missing Malaysia Airline MH370 on March 10, in Kuala Lumpur.
Vietnam Air Force plane
Clouds hover outside the window of a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft An-26 on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Vietnam's Tho Chu island.
Family Malaysian Airlines flight
People believed to be relatives of passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are escorted to the VIP section of the Beijing Capital International Airport prior to flying to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines
A Chinese relative of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines MH370 is comforted by a staff member of the airport as she shields her face from journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
MH370
A combination photo shows two men whom police said were travelling on stolen passports onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane.
Military personnel look out of a Singapore Air Force plane during the search
Military personnel look out of a Singapore Air Force plane during the search.
General Khalid Abu Bakar
Malaysia's police chief, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar, addresses a news conference.
Zhuji, China
Students from an international school in east China city Zhuji pray for the passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Flight MH370 relatives
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: Family members of missing passengers leave a meeting in a Beijing Hotel.
flight mh370 messages of hope
MESSAGE OF HOPE: A Vietnamese tourist writes a message of hope for missing passengers and crew.
flight mh370 message board
MESSAGES FOR THE MISSING: Tying a message of hope on a message board for passengers and crew.
MH370
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions at Lido Hotel.
MH370
A charity worker comforts an emotional relative of a passenger.
MH370
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at golden beach at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
MH370
Satellite images reveal a possible crash site for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, where three large objects were seen in the water.
MH370
An object sits in the water in satellite imagery released by China.
MH370
The zone where the mystery objects were found.
MH370
What appears to be fuel sits on the water in the area where three large objects were found.
MH370
A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force looks through the window of a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
MH370
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Pinckney are seen en transit in the Pacific Ocean in this US Navy picture taken May 18, 2011. Kidd and Pinkney have been searching for the missing Malaysian airliner and are being re-deployed to the Strait of Malacca off Malaysia's west coast as new search areas are opened in the Indian Ocean.
MH370
Students watch as a group of artists put the finishing touches to a three dimensional artwork at a school in Makati city, metro Manila. According to the artists, the artwork is their way of expressing sympathy towards the relatives of passengers onboard the missing Boeing 777-200ER.
MH370
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows two maps with corridors of the last known possible location of the missing plane.
Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat
Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Chinese relatives of the missing passengers
Chinese relatives of the missing passengers who were travelling onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 watch a television displaying a Malaysian press conference at Lido Hotel in Beijing.
MH370
A family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as he watches a message board dedicated to passengers.
MH370
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
MH370
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
22T112752-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A still image taken from video shows an image of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean by the Gaofen-1 high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite of CNSA.
22T154849-MALAYSIAAIRLINES-.JPG
Pilot Dave Smith (R) gives a pre-flight briefing aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft before taking off to search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at RAAF base Pearce near Perth, March 22, 2014.
22T050439-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
Family members of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 raise their fists as they shout "return our families" to protest against the lack of new information after a routine briefing given by Malaysia's government and military representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 22, 2014.
22T120221-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds up a note that he has just received on a new lead in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, during a news conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 22, 2014.
21T074540-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (bottom C) takes part in a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque in Putrajaya March 21, 2014.
14T074512-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A woman writes on a banner of well wishes for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 14, 2014.
22T043327-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 covers her face as she cries after a routine briefing given by Malaysia Airlines at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 22, 2014.
22T100248-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A girl reads some of the messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
22T132808-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A crew member aboard a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion uses binoculars as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 March 22, 2014.
22T100554-MALAYSIA-AIRLINES.JPG
A woman writes another message of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
20140320_MALAYSIA_debris.jpg
Map of the southern Indian Ocean locating site where a satellite may have found debris related to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; includes satellite images of possible debris. MCT
Search for MH370
Solid matter is pictured floating in the southern Indian Ocean seen from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
816702368.jpg
INDIAN OCEAN - This handout Satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) shows a map of the planned search area for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on March 24, 2014.
MH370
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds satellite images as he speaks about the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 26.
MH370
A satellite photo, showing the locations and co-ordinates of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.
MH370
A satellite photo, showing the location of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.

Fears are growing the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished over the South China Sea in darkness early Saturday morning may never be found.

Authorities in Kuala Lumpur have ordered the search for the plane be intensified after they discounted that objects reportedly seen floating in the sea on Sunday were from the aircraft.

Vietnam scrambled helicopters to check reports of a floating ‘‘yellow object’’ that rescue teams suspected could be a life raft from the plane, but it was merely the latest in a series of false alarms.

MH370
CRASH SITE?: Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner have spotted an object they suspect is one of the plane's doors.

Sixty hours after the plane abruptly disappeared from radar the search effort involving 46 ships and 34 planes from nine countries had hit a dead-end.

The only hope authorities have is that samples of an oil slick taken in the South China Sea on Sunday will be shown in chemical tests underway in Kuala Lumpur to be from the aircraft.

Oil spills from ships and exploration are frequent in the area.

Advertisement

 Malaysia Airlines
&nbsp

Azaharuddin Abdul Rahman, head of Malaysia's Civil Aviation Department, told reporters the plane's disappearance is "puzzling" and perplexing" and the circumstances of the plane's disappearance "unprecedented."

"We are intensifying efforts to locate the aircraft...we need positive evidence," he said.

Azaharuddin stressed that authorities will not give up on the search, referring to an Air France jet that disappeared in the Atlantic in 2009.

Its wreckage and crucial black box recorder were recovered two years after the crash.

"We will take as long as it takes to locate the plane," he said.

Azaharuddin said the possibility of the plane having been hijacked had not been discounted along with a number of other possibilities, including that it turned back two hours into the six-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

A pilot flying another plane who tried to contact the pilots in the cockpit of the Malaysia Airlines plane said he heard mumbled voices before contact was lost.

The pilots made no distress call. 

Azaharuddin confirmed that since the plane disappeared from the radar screen no signal has been detected from the aircraft's sophisticated equipment.

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

The missing plane apparently fell from the sky at cruising altitude in fine weather, and the pilots were either unable or had no time to send a distress signal - unusual circumstances under which a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline would crash.

SEARCH FOR PLANE CONTINUES

Six planes and seven ships have been sent to search for wreckage in the area, but have so far found nothing, Vietnam search and rescue co-ordination centre chief Doan Huu Gia said today.

More than a day and a half after flight MH370 disappeared, no confirmed debris from the plane had been found and the final minutes before it went missing remained a mystery.

The plane lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning en route to Beijing. Two New Zealanders were among the 239 people aboard the plane.

Investigators believed the plane may have disintegrated mid-air, helping to explain their inability to find a concentrated pattern of debris.

TAIWAN WARNED OF TERRORIST ATTACKS

Taiwan’s spy chief said Monday that the island had received a warning of possible terrorist attacks in China as the mainland hold its annual parliamentary session.

Taiwan's National Security Bureau head Tsai De-sheng told a legislative committee that the NSB passed on a warning of planned attacks against the Beijing airport and the city’s subway system to Chinese authorities following its receipt on March 4.

It comes as China’s National People’s Congress holds its annual session, which opened March 5 and closes Thursday.  

It also came three days after a knife attack by a group of people at a railway station in Kunming, China, left 29 people dead.

Police also shot dead four of the attackers.

Tsai said the receipt of the warning prompted stepped up security measures at Taiwanese airports, particularly on Beijing-bound flights.  

However, he said it had no connection to the missin Malaysia Airlines flight bound for Beijing.

STOLEN PASSPORTS

Troubling questions have emerged about how two passengers managed to board the ill-fated aircraft using stolen passports.

The thefts of the two passports - one belonging to Austrian Christian Kozel and the other to Luigi Maraldi of Italy - were entered into Interpol's database after they were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and last year. 

But no authorities in Malaysia or elsewhere checked the passports against the database of 40 million stolen or lost travel documents before the Malaysian Airlines plane took off.

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.

She said the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines.

As holders of EU passports with onward flights to Europe, the passengers would not have needed visas for China.

INTERPOL HITS OUT AT AIRLINES

Interpol has confirmed it knew about the stolen passports and has commented how no authorities had checked its vast databases on stolen documents before the Boeing jetliner departed.

Warning "only a handful of countries" routinely made such checks, Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble chided authorities.

"This is a situation we had hoped never to see. For years, Interpol has asked why should countries wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates."

Thai police have said they were investigating a "passport ring" after it emerged that tickets were booked in Maraldi and Kozel's names on March 6 this year.

They were issued in the Thai city of Pattaya, a popular beach resort south of the capital Bangkok.

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

"I am still perturbed. Can't these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian (passport holders) but with Asian faces," he was quoted as saying.

Authorities were checking on the identities of the two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports. On Saturday, the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight's manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand.

"I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV," Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. "We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board."

"Our focus now is to find the aircraft," he said, adding that finding the plane would make it easier for authorities to investigate any possible foul play.

In a forceful statement, the Interpol chief, who has called passport fraud one of the world's greatest threats, said he hoped "that governments and airlines worldwide will learn from the tragedy."

"Now, we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists," Noble said. 

"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."

MISSING KIWI'S WIFE CLINGS TO HOPE 

The wife of a Kiwi on board a missing Malaysia Airlines jet says she has been unable to bring herself to explain to their young son why his Dad has not Skyped him from overseas yet.

Danica Weeks is desperately waiting for news of her husband Paul, 38, one of two New Zealanders named on a passenger list for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared off the coast of Vietnam on Saturday.

"I can't give up hope. I would love him to walk through that door, hold him one more time," she told Perth media.

She said Paul, 38, left his wedding ring and watch at home.

"[He said] if something should happen to me then the wedding ringshould go to the first son that gets married and then the watch to the second'," she said.

The couple have a three-and-a-half-year-old son, Lincoln, and an 11-month-old son, Jack.

While speaking to The Press today, Danica said that Lincoln - "Dad's little shadow" - had been asking after his father.

"I have not faced Lincoln yet. He still thinks that his Dad is going to Skype him," she said.

A psychologist was visiting her house this afternoon, because "I want to know how to approach it and not just totally freak him out forever".

 

Click here for a larger image.

- AP, Reuters