Searching for MH370, tracking "Mr Ali"

Searching for MH370, tracking "Mr Ali"

Search and rescue efforts for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane which has gone missing for more than 80 hours continued to day with the operation covering a larger area, 100 nautical miles from the last point the aircraft was detected early Saturday morning.

The areas include waters off the west and east coast of Peninsular Malaysia towards Vietnam and up to northern Sumatra. 22 aircrafts and 44 ships from eight countries have also joined in the operations.

The operation is divided into several sections to ensure all areas are covered.

Director General of Civil Aviation Department, Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman at a press conference on Monday night stressed that search and rescue efforts will be intensified.

"This is still a search and rescue operation rather than disaster recovery operations," he said.

At the previous media conference on Monday afternoon, Azharuddin described the loss of the aircraft which was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing as ‘the mysterious disappearance of an aircraft that has never happened before."

Meanwhile a travel agent in Thailand has identified one of the two passengers on flight MH370 who reportedly boarded the plane using stolen passports as an Iranian.

Benjaporn Krutnait told the Financial Times on Monday, the man had bought two tickets from him.

He has known the man since three years ago and identified him as "Mr Ali."

Krutnait initially booked two tickets for the Iranian to Europe on March 1 on Qatar Airways and Air Etihad. The tickets however were canceled as Ali did not claim it.

On Thursday, March 6, Ali had asked Krutnait to book the cheapest flight available on Malaysia Airlines. He booked the ticket through China Southern Airlines, which was code-sharing the flight with MAS.

However the Financial Times said there was no evidence that Ali knew the two men who boarded flight MH370 using stolen passports.

Krutnait said he revealed the matter to authortieis because he does not believe that Ali has anything to do with any terrorism act. This is because Ali did not book the specific flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, instead was looking for the cheapest flight to Europe.

The two mysterious passengers had booked the Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight before flying to Amsterdam and after that to Frankfurt and Copenhagen.

Azharuddin told reporters on Monday night, that the investigation on the visual recording of the movement of the two mysterious passengers showed that all security protocols at the airport have been complied to.

Therefore the investigation on the stolen passports is now focused on the possibility a passport forgery syndicate in involved.

He also confirmed that, after examining the footage and photos, the two male passengers are not Asians.

~ Awani


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