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There's Still No Sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

Mar 11 2014 - 10:39am

With the weekend's clues falling through, the search area has been expanded for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which lost contact with the airline [1] on Friday, seemingly vanishing into thin air over the South China Sea without sending a distress signal. Over the weekend, reports indicated that a Vietnamese search plane had found fragments of an aircraft including a piece of the tail and part of a door, but that turned out to be untrue. Meanwhile, search crews also spotted oil slicks that were six to nine miles long in the same area where the Boeing 777-200ER lost contact with air traffic controllers, but it ended up being the fuel oil that's used in cargo ships. Without any signs of the plane, the FBI sent agents and technical experts to the region [2] to assist in the around-the-clock investigation involving several countries.

On Tuesday, Malaysian officials also released new information about the two men traveling aboard the plane with stolen passports. Immediately following the plane's disappearance, the airline contacted the passengers' families and authorities discovered that two of the people listed on the manifest never actually boarded the flight. The individuals in question were Italian and Austrian, and both said their passports were stolen [3] in Thailand. On Monday, Thai authorities reported that an Iranian man booked the tickets [4], and Tuesday's reports revealed that the passengers flying with the stolen passports were two Iranian men, ages 19 and 29, who were likely seeking refuge. The younger passenger was on his way to meet his mother in Germany, and Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said [5], "We believe he is not likely to be a member of any terrorist group."

Two hundred and thirty-nine passengers and crew members boarded the flight at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia. The plane took off just after midnight on Saturday to travel to Beijing. According to the flight manifest, 154 of the passengers are from China or Taiwan, 38 are from Malaysia, and there are three US citizens. The airline released the names of the three US nationals on the manifest: Philip Wood, 51, Nicole Meng, 4, and Yan Zhang, 2. A fourth passenger with the group, an infant, may also be a citizen, a US official said. According to the airline, other passengers on the international flight are from India, Indonesia, Australia, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Freescale Semiconductor, a Texas-based company that produces and designs embedded hardware, said that 20 of its employees were passengers. In a statement released to the press on Saturday, Gregg Lowethe, the company's president and CEO, said, "At present, we are solely focused on our employees and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragic event."

Malaysian authorities announced on March 11 that the two men traveling with stolen passports were Iranian men — a 19 year old heading to Germany to meet his mother, and a 29 year old, both likely seeking asylum.

An aerial picture taken on Sunday shows oil spills in the sea.

As hope waned among passengers' families on Sunday, Buddhist monks prayed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia.

A seaplane used in the search efforts prepared for takeoff at a military airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Sunday.

Personnel inspected life jackets on a search and rescue plane.

The delegate of the passengers' families issued a statement at the Lido Hotel in Beijing on Sunday.

As the investigation continued, a Vietnam Air Force officer looked out the window of a search aircraft on Sunday.

Large oil spills could be spotted from a search plane on Sunday.

On Saturday, a man looked up at the arrival board at Beijing Capital International Airport, where the flight was expected to land.

A family on Saturday took in the view near a local naval base at Phú Quoc island in southern Vietnam. The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers while flying above the nearby sea.

A woman handwrote a message to passengers' families at Beijing Capital International Airport, instructing them to await further information on the flight at a nearby hotel.

Malaysian Airlines senior official Dr. Hugh Dunleavy and Ignatius Ong, a member of the airline's crisis management team, addressed the Chinese media on Sunday after arriving in Beijing to provide answers to concerned families.

Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Prime Minister Najib Razak, and Minister of Transport Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein updated the media on search efforts on Saturday.

On Saturday, military personnel aboard a Vietnam Air Force aircraft scanned the sea for wreckage and signs of the jet. The next day, Malaysia Airlines said it was "fearing the worst" outcome.

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