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Pacific Oil Slicks Spotted In Search For Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane (Live Updates)


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Live updates now at this link http://www.theguardian.com/world/bl...ines-flight-370-search-continues-live-updates

Oil slicks spotted in search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane –

Vietnam air force spots oil slicks consistent with crash at sea
Plane en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing


Kirsten Broomhall and Mike Ticher

An information board indicating that flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines is delayed, at Beijing Capital International Airport. An information board indicating that flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines is delayed, at Beijing Capital International Airport. Photograph: HAP/Quirky China News/REX

53m ago

The New Straits Times is reporting that Malaysia’s immigration department is to open a special counter for families of the passengers, to help process instant passports for them if and when they need to travel to the site of the plane.

It said the counter would be opened at the passport office in Putrajaya in addition to the two existing counters at the Urban Transformation Centres in Pudu and Sentul.

1h 14m ago

Similar to the case of Luigi Maraldi, Austria has said that one of its citizens included on the passenger list was not on board the flight.

Austria’s foreign ministry spokesman, Martin Weiss, told media outlets on Saturday that the citizen, who he did not name, was safely living in Austria and had his passport stolen two years ago during a visit to Thailand.

There is only one Austrian on the passenger list: Christian Kozel, aged 30.

Updated 1h 14m ago

1h 42m ago

And more from Kate Hodal on Luigi Maraldi …

The Italian honorary consul Francesco Pensato in Phuket, Thailand, has confirmed Maraldi was in Phuket and they are checking whether it may have been a different man with the same name and date of birth on the plane.

1h 47m ago

Kate Hodal has been following up stories that an Italian man whose name is on the passenger list did not in fact get on the plane.

The Italian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, told Hodal that Luigi Maraldi is an Italian national living in Phuket who was recently given a new passport but did not get on the flight.

The embassy could not provide details on when the new passport was issued, possibly a couple of months ago, Hodal was told.

An embassy official told her it sounded like a case of “double passports”, where the new one is issued but the old one is stolen, although there was also the possibility that it could be a different Luigi Maraldi on board.

Maraldi himself has been quoted by other media as saying his old passport was stolen last year.


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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004

Malaysia Airlines plane vanishes from radar screens

Multinational search and rescue operation continues for flight MH370 carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing

Tania Branigan and Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing

Almost 240 people are missing after a Malaysian Airlines flight en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday.

Search and rescue teams from Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore were scouring waters south of Vietnam for traces of flight MH370, more than 12 hours after it lost contact. Ships and aircraft from China and the Philippines were also on their way to help.

Two infants were among the 227 passengers, more than 150 of whom were Chinese nationals. Twelve crew were on board.

The other travellers included 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, and six Australians as well as passengers from India, France, the US, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Austria.

The Boeing 777-200ER left Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am on Saturday (6.41pm GMT) and was last detected somewhere between 20 minutes and two hours into its flight.

Vietnamese media reported an admiral as saying that the plane "could have" crashed in Vietnamese maritime territory, but Malaysia's acting transport minister denied reports that it had been found south of a Vietnamese island.

"We are doing everything in our power to locate the plane. We are doing everything we can to ensure every possible angle has been addressed," Hishamuddin Hussein told reporters near Kuala Lumpur International airport. He said the Malaysian military was awaiting information from Vietnamese counterparts.

Malaysian naval vessels saw no immediate sign of wreckage when they reached the area off the country's north-east coast where the flight last made contact, a senior rescue official told Reuters.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, said President Xi Jinping had urged officials to strengthen contacts with their counterparts in Malaysia and other countries and take all necessary measures for any emergency treatment needed. He had also ordered the Ministry of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Administration to enhance security checks to ensure the "absolute safety" of domestic operations.

"We are extremely worried," China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, told reporters in Beijing. "The news is very disturbing."

Fuad Sharuji, Malaysia Airlines' vice-president of operations control, told CNN the plane had been flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,670 metres) and that the pilots had reported no problems.

Analysts said it was highly unusual to lose a flight without any previous indication it was experiencing difficulties – although an Air France flight that crashed into the South Atlantic in 2009, killing all 228 people on board, had never issued a distress call.

The plane is a Boeing 777-200, which aviation experts said has a strong safety record. One crash-landed in San Francisco in July last year, killing three passengers and injuring more than 180, but the crash investigation, which is ongoing, has so far indicated no mechanical failure and focused on the pilots' failure to recognise that the plane was flying too low and too slow as it approached the runway.

Boeing said via Twitter that its thoughts were with all on board and their families.

Malaysia Airlines is also regarded as having a strong safety record. Its last major incident was in 1995, when 34 people died after a plane crashed in the Malaysian city of Tawau. The flight was operating as a China Southern Airlines codeshare.

In a statement on Saturday afternoon, Malaysia Airlines wrote: "We are currently working with international authorities on the search and rescue mission and as at 1400 hours, 08 March 2014, we have no information on the location of the airline.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all passengers, our crew and their family members."

Confusion surrounds the point at which the flight lost contact. In a statement, Malaysian Airlines' chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, said it was in contact with air traffic controllers until around two hours into the flight, at a point 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.

Other sources suggested that was an error. Flight tracking website FlightAware showed the plane flying north-east over Malaysia after takeoff and climbing to 35,000ft. The flight vanished from the website's tracking records a minute later, 20 minutes after it took off.

Twenty minutes after that, while flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh city, the plane failed to check in as scheduled, an official at the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said.

In a separate statement, Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, said the flight "lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam's air traffic control".

Pham Hien, a Vietnamese search and rescue official, said the last signal was detected 120 nautical miles south-west of Vietnam's Ca Mau province, close to where the South China Sea meets the Gulf of Thailand.

The black boxes on planes are equipped with electronic beacons that emit ultrasonic signals detectable underwater and can, in the right conditions, be detected from hundreds of miles away. But if trapped deep inside wreckage or an underwater trench, the effectiveness can be hindered.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs has said it "fears the worst" and has contacted the family members of the Australians on board.

By 10.30am, four hours after the plane was due to arrive, most people waiting for it at Beijing International airport had left. The arrivals board still listed the flight.

A whiteboard next to an information booth offered waiting families transportation to a nearby hotel, where they were promised more information. By late afternoon, many relatives had been waiting for hours in a hotel ballroom guarded by police. Those contacted by Chinese media said they had not been given any updates.

ABC News reported that some relatives screamed in frustration that they had not been able to speak to an airline official.

One sobbing woman, who had gone to meet her brother, told ABC that airline officials initially told her the flight had not taken off when she asked about its non-arrival.

Several of the Chinese passengers are thought to have been returning from an art exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.

In Kuala Lumpur, more family members gathered at the airport.

Malaysia Airlines has named the captain as Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old Malaysian with 18,000 hours of flying on his log book after 23 years with the company. The first officer, Fariq Hamid, joined the company in 2007 and has more than 2,700 hours of experience.



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