Wreckage of Malaysian 777 may have been found
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Wreckage of Malaysian 777 may have been found

Kuala Lumpur : Malaysia | Mar 08, 2014 at 1:33 PM PST
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Relatives of Malaysian Airlines passengers

Wreckage from a missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, which may have been the target of terrorism, has been found 80 kilometers (48 miles) off the coast of Tho Chu Island, media reported Sunday.

The Guardian and others reported the finding. Thanh Nien News of Vietnam reported: "A seaplane of the Vietnam Air Force spotted a floating object suspected to be a window of an airplane as it was searching for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner which vanished with 239 people on board in the waters near Vietnam on Saturday."

The Washington Post said it was too dark to verify the origin of the debris. It will be daylight in the Gulf of Thailand about 8 p.m. New York time.

Several hours after dawn broke Monday search planes and ships had not been able to find the debris sighted Sunday.

Thanh Nien also reported the US FBI and Malaysian authorities were investigating whether the plane had been hijacked.

As ships and planes widened the search area for the plane off the coast of Vietnam, officials said they had called in counter terrorism units, the BBC reported.

The Vietnamese Navy had investigated one floating object and found that it was not wreckage, but CNN on Sunday said another object was found in the search area. It was spotted about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Vietnam's Tho Chu Island, Vietnam National Search and Rescue Committee Spokesman Hung Nguyen told CNN.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the government was trying to determine whether the plane may have turned back after it lost contact with flight controllers. Radar data indicated it might have, he later said. It was on a fight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

"There is a distinct possibility the airplane did a turn-back, deviating from the course," said Malaysian Air Force Gen. Rodzali Daud, citing radar data."One of the possibilities is that it was returning to Kuala Lumpur," Thanhien News of Vietnam reported.

The London Daily Mail, contrary to earlier reports from other media, said the Vietnamese Navy detected the aircraft's emergency locator signal 153 miles south of Phu Quoc island in the South China sea. This report was denied.

The FBI had deployed agents to help investigate the disappearance, the Washington Post reported. Associated Press said as many as four passengers may have been traveling on false passports. The New York Times earlier reported two passenger were traveling on false European passports.

There were a total of 239 passengers and crews on the plane. US, Chinese and other warships and aircraft from other nations joined in the search.

The mystery deepened when the New Straits Times reported the pilot of another airliner flying ahead of the Malaysian Airlines flight said he had been able to contact the pilot at the request of Vietnamese authorities.

The pilot, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "We managed to establish contact with MH370 just after 1:30 am and asked them if they have transferred into Vietnamese airspace.

"The voice on the other side could have been either Captain Zaharie (Ahmad Shah, 53,) or Fariq (Abdul Hamid, 27), but I was sure it was the co-pilot.

"There were a lot of interference... static... but I heard mumbling from the other end. "That was the last time we heard from them, as we lost the connection," he said.

A day and a half of searching, including the area where two large oil slicks were spotted, produced nothing.

At a news briefing in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning, officials said there had been no sign of any wreckage.

"The rescue operations continue... and we have to report that we have not been able to locate anything," said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, a representative of Malaysia's civil aviation authority.

“We are looking at all possibilities,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“While the stolen passports are interesting, they don’t necessarily say to us that this was a terrorism act,” a senior intelligence official told the Times.

Unlike the Air France Airbus disappearance off the coast of Brazil, which took two years to find in deep water, the area where searchers are focused is relative shallow, the BBC said.

The Vietnamese air force had found a 12-mile-long oil slick in the gulf of Thailand in the South China Sea but had not confirmed it was from the plane.

The plane was cruising at about 35,000 feet and sent no distress signal.

A European security official told the Times it was surprising that the stolen passports were not detected before the passengers got on the plane. BBC said the passports were listed as stolen by Interpol.

“Maybe they were careless _ or somebody helped them,” the Times source said.

There were 227 passengers and a crew of 12.

It was reported that 154 passengers were citizens of Taiwan or China, 38 were Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French, three Americans, and two citizens each from Canada, the Ukraine and New Zealand, and one from Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia.

Sources:

The Star

New Straits Times

New York Daily News

New York Times

Xinhua

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US Navy joins search for missing Malaysian airliner
The US Armed Forces provided this image of a Seahawk helicopter taking off from the missile destroyer USS Pinckney to join the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people aboard.
Robert Weller is based in Denver, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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