On Saturday Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 departed from the capital Kuala Lumpur, destined for Beijing. Shortly after it departed for an overnight flight, it had disappeared from radar and officials. Families fearfully await news of the unresolved lost airplane that had 239 people on board. Potential clues in the form of floating debris near Vietnam and Singapore have turned out to be inconclusive or false alarms. At present, no one knows the fate of the crew or passengers and it is feared that the plane disintegrated mid-flight, at around 35,000 feet, although the cause is unknown.
The latest development in the mysterious and tragic story is that two of the people on board appear to have used stolen passports – one from Austria and one from Italy – and that they purchased their tickets at the same time, as suggested by their contiguous ticket numbers and the fact that they were both purchased from China Southern Airlines for the same price.
The passport issue came to light when two men with the same names as those on the passenger list reported that their passports were missing. The two countries have confirmed that none of their citizens were on Flight 370. Interpol, the world’s largest international law enforcement organization, which is represented in 190 member countries, had identified at least one of the passports as stolen.
How did the passengers using appropriated passports get through Security at the airport? It is likely that Malaysia Airlines did not check the Interpol database for stolen passports, which is a fairly routine and easy practice. As a result, the Department of Civil Aviation in Malaysia will investigate and as a result, some people could lose their position within the airlines, or worse.
Radar records have recently shown that, before the explosion took place, the flight may have attempted briefly to turn back towards its place of origin. The pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, was a whiz in aviation technology with 18,000 hours of flying experience. He had a passion for the Boeing 777 – the plane that Flight 370 was on – and very knowledgeable about its intricacies.
The entire matter is weighing heavily on family members who have been advised to prepare for unmitigated loss. Without any visible sign or information, there is little hope for survival. At present, it is unknown if the explosion of the Malaysia Airlines flight was a result of foul play or terrorism. Outlaws board flights illegally every day with false passports – some for reasons of immigration, others for more malicious purposes. No conclusions about intentions can be drawn without further evidence.
Although it was hoped by officials and families that, at this point, there would be some discovery leading to location of the wreckage, at this point nothing has been found. Moreover, there is no explanation why neither the pilot nor the copilot radioed Aviation Control to tell them that they were planning to return to Kuala Lumpur.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi strongly urged Malaysia to continue the search. In terms of human life, every minute counts, and he said to continue as long as there is any hope of rescue. For now, anguished families and officials waiting for search results can only wait for news to alert them to what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and whether the loss can ever be explained.
By Fern Remedi-Brown