We have to find the aircraft': 2 days later, no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 3/10/2014, 5:37 a.m.
By Saeed Ahmed
Despite the efforts of 34 planes, 40 ships and search crews from ten countries, officials have not found any sign of a Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing two days ago.
"Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we have not found anything that appear to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft," Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian civil aviation department, told reporters Monday.
So, more than 48 hours later, the mysteries surrounding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 -- and the true identities of some of its passengers -- remain intact.
Rahman discounted media reports that a plane door had been spotted.
"That report was not verified officially by the Vietnamese authorities," he said.
Another report said the plane's tail had been found. That, too, is untrue, he said.
The only lead investigators have is an oil slick that a Vietnamese plane spotted, 90 miles south of Vietnam's Tho Chu Island in the Gulf of Thailand.
The oil slick stretched between 6 and 9 miles -- and is being lab-tested.
No emergency signal has been detected by any search vessels or aircraft. And family members of passengers are being told to prepare for the worst.
"For the aircraft to go missing just like that ... as far as we are concerned, we are equally puzzled as well," Rahman said.
"We have to find the aircraft."
So far, nothing
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning. The Boeing 777-200ER, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, went missing while flying to Beijing.
Since then, teams of searchers from Vietnam, China, Singapore, Indonesia, USA, Thailand, Australia, the Philippines and New Zealand have been working alongside Malaysians to scour the Gulf of Thailand, part of the South China Sea that lies between several Southeast Asian countries.
The focus has now shifted to the Andaman Sea, near Thailand's border after radar data indicated the plane may have turned around to head back to Kuala Lumpur.
But the pilot appeared to have given no signal to authorities that he was turning around.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., planes flew over the vast waters. Ships searched through the night.
One promising lead has turned out to be a dead end. A "strange object" spotted by a Singaporean search plane late Sunday afternoon is not debris from the missing jetliner, a U.S. official familiar with the issue told CNN on Sunday.
"We need hard evidence. We need concrete evidence," Rahman said. "We are increasing our efforts to do what we have to do."
The stolen passports
It is perplexing enough that a jetliner seemed to have vanished without a trace. Adding to the intrigue is the news that at least two people on board were traveling on passports stolen from an Austrian and an Italian.
Interpol tweeted Sunday it was examining additional "suspect #passports."
The two passengers who used the passports in question appear to have bought their tickets together.
"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 Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble in a statement.