Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: What we know and don't know

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 3/11/2014, 2:18 p.m.
As the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet entered a fourth day Tuesday, investigators remained uncertain about its whereabouts. ...
Authorities said Tuesday they had identified the two passengers who used stolen passports to board missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The two passengers in this photo are young men who entered Malaysia using valid Iranian passports, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said at a news conference. But they used stolen Austrian and Italian passports to board the missing Malaysian plane, he said. Their names and ages are Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, left, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, right. Officials said it's unlikely that they were part of a terrorist group.

By Jethro Mullen

CNN

As the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet entered a fourth day Tuesday, investigators remained uncertain about its whereabouts.

Here's a summary of what we know and what we don't know about Flight 370, which was carrying 239 people when it disappeared from radar screens over Southeast Asia.

THE FLIGHT PATH

What we know: The Boeing 777-200ER took off from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, at 12:41 a.m. Saturday (12:41 p.m. Friday ET). It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. the same day, after a roughly 2,700-mile (4,350-kilometer) journey. But around 1:30 a.m., air traffic controllers in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the plane over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam. A senior Malaysian air force official said Tuesday the flight was hundreds of miles off course, traveling in the opposite direction from its original destination and had stopped sending identifying transponder codes before it disappeared.

What we don't know: What happened next. The pilots did not indicate any problem to the tower, and no distress signal was issued. Malaysian military officials cite radar data as suggesting the plane might have turned back toward Kuala Lumpur. But the pilots didn't tell air traffic control that they were doing so. And we don't know why the plane would have turned around. While one expert tells CNN the plane's deviation could mean someone deliberately turned the plane around, another expert says power failure could have disrupted the main transponder and its backup, and the plane could have flown for more than an hour.

THE PASSENGERS

What we know: There were 239 people on board: 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Five of the passengers were younger than 5 years old. Those on board included a number of painters and calligraphers, as well as employees of an American semiconductor company.

According to the airline, the passengers' 14 nationalities spanned the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and North America. Passengers from China or Taiwan numbered 154, followed by Malaysians, at 38. There were three U.S. citizens on the plane. Four passengers had valid booking to travel but did not show up to for the flight, according to the airline. "As such, the issue of off-loading unaccompanied baggage did not arise," it added Tuesday in a prepared statement.

What we don't know: Why two people who boarded the plane were using stolen passports, officials say.

THE PASSPORT MYSTERY

What we know: The tickets for the two people who used stolen Italian and Austrian passports were bought Thursday in Thailand, according to ticketing records. Both tickets were one-way and had itineraries continuing on from Beijing to Amsterdam. One ticket's final destination was Frankfurt, Germany; the other's was Copenhagen, Denmark. The passports were stolen in Thailand from the two people to whom they had been issued -- the Austrian's was taken last year and the Italian's in 2012.

Interpol identified the men using the stolen passports as Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, both Iranians. Malaysian police believe Nourmohammadi was trying to emigrate to Germany using the stolen Austrian passport. The men entered Malaysia on February 28 using valid Iranian passports.