With the weekend's clues falling through, the search area has been expanded for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which lost contact with the airline 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 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 in Thailand. On Monday, Thai authorities reported that an Iranian man booked the tickets, 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, "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."