Update: 03/13/14 EST: The debris found in the South China Sea is not the missing Malaysian plane, MH370, and it is now believed the plane was airborne for 4 hours after it disappeared, giving it a range of 2,200 nautical miles from where it was last seen. U.S. officials now fear it has been hijacked and flown to a mystery location.
Data downloaded from the engines suggest it flew for five hours after takeoff. Counter-terrorism officials now believe the pilot or someone turned off the transponders.
Pakistan and the Arabian Sea are within range.
The Wall Street Journal broke the new developments after talking with two unofficial sources familiar with the American investigation – raising a whole new raft of questions about what happened to the jet which disappeared seemingly without trace from radar at around 1.30 am early on Saturday morning en-route to Beijing.
Update: 03/12/14 EST: The Chinese believe they have found three pieces of the wreckage of Flight MH 370 in the South China Sea. Ships and planes are racing to the site.
The Malysian official who said that the plane rerouted and traveled to the other side of the island now says he didn’t say it. The FBI believes the Malaysians aren’t engaging in a cover up, they simply don’t know what they are looking at due to a lack of expertise. An NTSB crew is now examining records.
Update: 03/11/14: 13:00 EST: Fox News is reporting that the missing plane might have changed course and made it to the Malacca Strait, hundreds of miles away from the last location reported by civilian authorities. If that is true, it would have had to fly over the country undetected. Searches now cover both sides of the island.
Ships and aircraft from 10 countries are now searching for the plane.
“We have expanding to a hundred kilometers the radius of Igari,” said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Malaysian Civil Aviation Chief.
A hijacking or a bomb are being considered along with mechanical failure and as possible reasons for the plane’s disappearance.
Update: 03/10/14: The men with the missing passports were likely asylum seekers, not terrorists. Malaysian police chief Tan Sri Khalid Tan Sri said one who was identified was a 19-year-old man believed to be planning to enter Germany to seek asylum. The second man was Mohammed Reza, born in Iran in 1984, was also believed to be an asylum seeker. Interpol does not believe terrorism was involved.
Update: 03/10/14: 13:49 EST: Tickets linked to stolen passports for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were purchased by an Iranian man, authorities say.
Update: 03/10/14: The debris turned out to be flotsam. there is still no sign of the plane.
Update: 21:39: There are indications the plane disintegrated in mid-air. The two passengers with the Italian and Austrian passports looked Asian and the immigration officials are being criticized for letting them through.
“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.
Fragments of the plane might have been spotted. A composite inner door and a piece of the plane’s tail were located about 50 miles south-southwest of Tho Chu island.
No signals have been received from the plane’s beacon.
On Sunday afternoon, a statement issued in the name of a previously unknown group claimed that the disappearance of the plane was a political act aimed at the Chinese and Malaysian governments and referred to last week’s attack in a Chinese train station that Beijing blamed on Uighur separatists. It is being investigated.
Missiles launched by North Korea have come dangerously close to jet liners, causing China to complain just last week.
For now, the crash is being treated as an accident but terrorism has not been ruled out.
Original Story: Military radar has now determined that the missing Boeing 777 may have turned back before vanishing. Malaysia’s air force is now investigating up to four passengers with suspicious identities. The two with stolen identities bought the tickets together.
Two people had stolen identities and two others are labeled suspicious. Malaysia has sought help from the FBI and help is being provided by Interpol.
“We are trying to make sense of this,” the Malaysian air force chief told a media conference. “The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back and in some parts, this was corroborated by civilian radar,” Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said.
Pilots are supposed to inform traffic control if such an action is taken but no contact was made and no distress signal was sent.
The plane disappeared an hour into the flight and it went off course for a indeterminate length of time.
Uncertainties mount on the final minutes of flight MH 370 which was carrying 239 people on its way to China from Kuala Lumpur early Saturday.
There is no trace of the plane. Two oil slicks are being investigated but there is no sign of wreckage and many ships passed over that area. If the pilot turned around, he might have dumped fuel. The search has been widened more than 36 hours after the last contact.
An onboard explosion could account for the disappearance. Al Qaeda militants have used similar tactics to disguise identities.
Other possible causes are catastrophic engine failure, turbulence, pilot error. Only the flight recorders will have the answer.
The stolen passports were from an Italian – Luigi Maraldi – and an Austrian – Christian Kozel. Both were stolen in Thailand. Having EU passports precludes their need for a visa to China.
Two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese. Twenty were employees of Freescale Semiconductor, an Austin company that was once a division of Motorola. Three U.S. citizens were on the plane. The remainder of the passengers were from Asia and Europe.
Missing U.S. passenger Philip Wood 51 was an IBM executive who worked in Kuala Lumpur.
Aussie globetrotters, Catherine and Robert Lawton were passengers on the plane which carried 239 souls.
Norliakmar Hamid (second right) and her husband Razahan Zamani (right) were passengers on a missing Malaysia Airlines flight.