New information in the catastrophic crash of the Malaysian airplane carrying 239 passengers and crew point to terror. The identities of two more passengers on the missing flight are under investigation, bringing the total number of passengers traveling using stolen passports to four.
“…the tickets linked to the Italian and Austrian passports were bought together in Thai baht at identical prices, according to China’s official e-ticket verification system Travelsky. The ticket numbers are contiguous, which indicates the tickets were issued together.”
That is no coincidence.
As the search for clues begins, Chinese authorities look to Islam militants who were also blamed for the recent train station stabbing spree.
Did Missing Malaysia flight DISINTEGRATE at 35,000 feet? Search team find what they believe is part of plane door and tail as Interpol probes claims four people boarded using stolen passports,” Daily Mail, March 8, 2014 (thanks to David)
- Search team finds what it believes is part of a door and a plane’s tail
- Authorities say at least two people were travelling on stolen passports
- Interpol said its database with information about them wasn’t checked
- The tickets they used were bought through through a Chinese airline
- Flight MH370 declared missing nearly 90 minutes after it was due to land
- The missing 227 passengers and 12 crew were from 14 different countries
Debris from the missing Boeing 777 flight is believed to have been found off Vietnam as Interpol investigates whether up to four passengers boarded the plane using stolen passports.
A Vietnamese search team has found what they believe is part of a door and an airplane’s tail in the first major breakthrough in the hunt for missing aircraft.
The suspected fragments have been located around 50 miles from south-west of Tho Chu Island, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Investigators are narrowing the focus of their inquiries on the possibility that the plane disintegrated in mid-flight, a senior source said on Sunday
‘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, who is involved in the investigations in Malaysia.
It comes as Interpol criticised Thailand’s lax airport security after it emerged at least two passengers boarded the Malaysia Airlines flight MH307 with stolen passports – giving rise to the possibility that the missing 239 passengers are victims of a terrorist attack.
The possibility of a further two stolen passports used on the same flight is now being investigated as it emerges that no cross checks were carried out against Interpol’s lost and stolen database.
Procedural checks would have revealed that at least two passengers were travelling on stolen passports stolen.
Luigi Maraldi, 37, the owner of one of the passports, was listed as the sole Italian national on the missing flight. This afternoon he told how the document was stolen while he was on holiday in July last year on the island Phuket.
Mr Maraldi reported his passport stolen in Thailand last August and was allowed to travel back to his native Italy on temporary documents.
On Sunday, his father Walter explained the original was stolen after he used it to hire a motorbike.
‘Last summer he was in Thailand and handed over the passport so he could hire a scooter but when he brought it back, they said they had already given it back to someone else, so he reported it stolen,’ he said.
Mr Maraldi added:’The whole thing is a mix up – we have no idea who the person was that used my son’s passport. The first I knew something had happened was when my son rang from Thailand on Saturday morning to say he was alive.
He said he had seen his name on the news reports as being on the missing airplane and he wanted to let us know he was alive and well. To be honest, I had no idea whet he was talking about as I hadn’t seen the news by then.
‘Once everything was cleared up, we said goodbye and I went and watched the news – a few minutes later the Italian Foreign Ministry rang to ask if I was the father of Luigi Maraldi and to say that he was on the passenger list.
‘They were amazed when I said they were mistaken as I had just spoken to him and he was fine. They asked me for his number so they could call and check for themselves.
‘They said his passport had been used by someone and they needed to check for certain he was ok. We are delighted that he is ok but he was never really involved in the disaster directly.’
Risman Siregar (left) comforts his wife Erlina Panjaitan (centre). They are the parents of Firman Chandra Siregar, a 24 year-old passenger
Relatives of victims from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane arrive for a meeting with airline officials in Beijing
Relatives of those on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 arrive for a meeting with airline officials in Beijing on March 9
The owner of the other stolen passport was Austrian citizen Christian Kozel, 30, who’s name also appeared on the passenger manifest.
Mr Kozel discovered he had been listed when uniformed police officers turned up at his home in Salzburg at the weekend.
He said: ‘I was pretty shocked when I saw them at my door, and was relieved to find out that although I was dead, at least it was only on paper.’
But it still left him with a lot of worried friends and relatives that he had to reassure after it was reported that he was dead. He said he had reported the passport as stolen while he was in the same part of Thailand two years ago, and that it had apparently then been used by someone illegally.
In a statement issued today, the France-based international police body said information about the thefts was entered into its database after they were stolen in Thailand.
Officials from Italy and Austria also confirmed that the travel documents of both men were reported stolen in Thailand.
Interpol said it was now investigating all other passports used to board flight MH370 and was working to determine the ‘true identities’ of the passengers who used the stolen passports.
‘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 in a statement.
Noble expressed frustration that few of Interpol’s 190 member countries ‘systematically’ search the database to determine whether documents being used to board a plane are registered as lost or stolen.
‘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,’ he said.
The security breach has led to fears that missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH307 may have been taken down by terrorists to be heightened.
It comes as the chief of the Malaysian Air Force said that radar indicated the missing plane may have turned back before it crashed.
‘What we have done is actually look into the recording on the radar that we have and we realised there is a possibility the aircraft did make a turn back,’ Rodzali Daud, the Royal Malaysian Air Force chief, told reporters at a news conference.
Despite dozens of military and civilians vessels and aircraft criss-crossing waters to the east and west of Malaysia, no wreckage has been found, although oil slicks have been reported in the sea south of Vietnam.
Malaysian Security officials earlier revealed they had footage of two passengers traveling on passports stolen in Thailand – one registered to an Italian and the other an Austrian – making their way through Kuala Lumpur passport control to the aircraft.
The passengers being checked had all bought their tickets through China Southern Airlines.
It appears the the tickets linked to the Italian and Austrian passports were bought together in Thai baht at identical prices, according to China’s official e-ticket verification system Travelsky. The ticket numbers are contiguous, which indicates the tickets were issued together.
It follows reports that an anonymous pilot told Malaysian newspapers that he had heard a ‘mumbled’ last transmission from the aircraft – although this is contradicted by air traffic controllers who say there was no distress call.
U.S. officials also confirmed they have dispatched a team of safety experts including FBI agents to Southeast Asia to assist in the investigation of the Boeing 777, which disappeared shortly after takeoff with 239 people on board.
While the wreckage of the plane has still not been found, new photos of oil slicks in the South China Sea have emerged and a growing body of evidence is beginning to point towards a terrorist attack.
And dramatically, a second pilot who was in the skies over the South China Sea when the 777 vanished has spoken about hearing ‘mumbling’ at the other end of communications with the plane.
The captain, who asked to remain anonymous, told Malaysian media outlets he was asked to get in contact with the pilot flying the missing plane on an emergency frequency and establish their position.
He said he believes he spoke to the co-pilot, but that there were ‘interference’ and ‘mumbling’ before they lost the connection.
Earlier on Saturday, two oil slicks were spotted by the Vietnamese air force in the Gulf of Thailand, about 90 miles south of Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island – the same area where the flight disappeared from radar.
The plane – carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members – took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.21am (4.21pm GMT) Saturday bound for Beijing, where it was expected to land at 6.30am (10.30pm GMT).
But after reaching 35,000ft and 120 nautical miles off the coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu the plane vanished.
IBM employee Philip Wood, 51, was identified as the only adult passenger traveling on a U.S. passport on Flight MH307.
Two other American travelers have been named as toddlers Leo Meng, two, and Nicole Meng, four.
Family members of passengers aboard a missing plane cry at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia
Members of Fo Guang Shan rescue team offer a special prayer for passengers aboard a missing plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia
Buddhist monks offer a special prayer for passengers aboard a missing plane
Hugh Dunleavy (center), Malaysia Airlines head of commercial, speaks to media at Lido Hotel in Beijing, China
Personnel inspect life jackets put inside a Soviet-made AN-26, used by the Vietnamese Air Force as a search and rescue aircraft, as it is refueled before making an other flight over the seas off Vietnam
The emergency response team sent by China’s Ministry of Transport set out early Sunday morning from Sanya to sea area where missing Malaysia Airline flight MH 370 may have crashed
Anxious: Families of those on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH307 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, face an anxious wait for news of the search mission at Kuala Lumpur airport
Grief: Family and friends waiting for the plane to arrive break down as they hear the jet has gone missing. The flight vanished off the coast of Vietnam around two hours after taking off
Despair: There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board Flight MH370, from 14 different nations
The two Canadian passengers were identified as mining executive Muktesh Mukherjee and his wife Xiaomo Bai
Globetrotters: Australian nationals Catherine and Robert Lawton, from Brisbane, were named as one of three couples from Down Under who were missing