The first pieces of an aircraft that mysteriously vanished in southeast Asia Saturday may have finally been found. Pieces of the Malaysia Airlines flight’s inner door and a piece of the tail was found about 50 miles south-southwest of Tho Chu island, Vietnam officials said Sunday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
CHINA – Thirty-four aircraft, 40 ships, and officials from no fewer than 8 countries are involved in the search.
That an international jet liner can apparently vanish while cruising at 35,000 feet, with no sign of a distress signal or trouble, has rattled the nerves and captured the attention of many. That is, after all, the safest portion of a flight.
Officials leading the search so far have been unable to identify a field of debris — which is unusual for a plane that may have plunged into the sea. “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 search told Reuters.
The chief of Malaysia’s air force said there were signs the aircraft may have attempted to turn back towards his country. “We are trying to make sense of this,” Rodzali Daud said at a news conference. “The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back, and in some parts this was corroborated by civilian radar.”
But they didn’t tell air traffic control they were attempting such a maneuver, as is commonly required.
Late Sunday night, Vietnamese authorities said a military plane may have spotted an object floating it the water, identifying it as a possible piece of the tail or an inner door. That, plus the sighting of two large oil slicks off the coast of Vietnam, have led the authorities to direct their focus on a 50-nautical mile radius area. (read more)
possible plane debris as photographed by Vietnamese search aircraft
(Via Telegraph) Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that authorities were looking at two more possible cases of suspicious identities. He said Malaysian intelligence agencies were in contact with their international counterparts, including the FBI. He gave no more details.
“All the four names are with me and have been given to our intelligence agencies,” he said. “We are looking at all possibilities.”…
…European authorities on Saturday confirmed the names and nationalities of the two stolen passports: One was an Italian-issued document bearing the name Luigi Maraldi, the other Austrian under the name Christian Kozel.
A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline on Sunday confirmed “Maraldi” and “Kozel” were both booked to leave Beijing on a KLM flight to Amsterdam on March 8. Maraldi was then to fly to Copenhagen on KLM on March 8, and Kozel to Frankfurt on March 8.
She said the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines so she had no information on where they bought them.
Having an onward reservation from Beijing would have meant the pair, as holders of EU passports, would not have needed a visa for China. Beyond that, it was unclear whether this had any possible implications for the investigation…
…Jason Middleton, the head of the Sydney-based University of New South Wales’ School of Aviation, said terrorism or some other form of foul play seemed a likely explanation.
“You’re looking at some highly unexpected thing, and the only ones people can think of are basically foul play, being either a bomb or some immediate incapacitating of the pilots by someone doing the wrong thing and that might lead to an airplane going straight into the ocean,” Middleton said. “With two stolen passports (on board), you’d have to suspect that that’s one of the likely options.” (read more)