Still no sign of Malaysia Airlines plane

2014-03-10 11:46

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The disappearance of a Malaysia jetliner is an "unprecedented aviation mystery", a senior official said on the third day of a massive air and sea search which has failed to find any trace of the plane or the 239 people aboard.

Helicopters from Vietnam scrambled to locate a floating "yellow object" that rescue teams suspected could be a life raft from the plane, but it was unclear whether the sighting would prove to be the first big breakthrough or merely the latest in a series of false alarms.

The head of Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said a hijacking attempt can not be ruled out as investigators explore all possible reasons for the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that was en route to Beijing.

"As far as we are concerned, we have to find the aircraft, we have to find a piece of the aircraft if possible," he said.

As dozens of ships and aircraft from seven countries scour the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam, questions mount over possible security lapses and whether a bomb or hijacking attempt could have brought the Boeing 777-200ER airliner down.

Interpol confirmed yesterday that at least two passengers used stolen passports and said it was checking whether others aboard had used false identity documents.

Flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, after climbing to a cruising altitude of 10 670m.

Underlining the lack of hard information about the plane's fate, a U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft capable of covering 3884.98 sq km every hour is sweeping the northern part of the Strait of Malacca, on the opposite side of the Malaysian peninsula from where contact with MH370 was last made.

"Our aircraft are able to clearly detect small debris in the water, but so far it has all been trash or wood," said US 7th Fleet spokesperson Commander William Marks in an emailed statement.

Shares in Malaysia Airlines fell as much as 18% to a record low this morning.

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