'Security Breach' Probed In Missing Aircraft Case (Updated)
Malaysian officials have confirmed they're investigating a "security breach" at Kuala Lumpur Airport involving Flight MH370 and that they're now looking for links between four passengers and the Chinese Uighur militant Muslim movement. Uighur militants killed 29 people last week in a grisly knife attack at a Chinese train station and the timing of the aircraft disappearance is considered suspicious according to sources quoted by CBC News. Security officials are combing CCTV footage of the security screening area and are interviewing the screeners. At least two of the passengers were believed to have been traveling on stolen passports while the other two that are the focus of the probe may have had Ukrainian passports. All of the passengers who required them had Chinese entry visas but China has recently allowed an exemption to its stringent visa requirements that permits transient passengers to skip applying for an entry visa. The two men flying on what were believed to be stolen visas had booked flights through to Europe. Meanwhile reports that debris had been spotted turned out to be false and the search continues.
The commander of Malaysia's air force told reporters Sunday radar data shows Flight MH370 may have turned back toward the originating airport at Kuala Lumpur before contact was lost. "What we have done is actually look into the recording on the radar that we have and we realized there is a possibility the aircraft did make a turnback," Rodzali Daud, the Royal Malaysian Air Force chief, told reporters at a news conference. Meanwhile, government officials in Austria and Italy say residents of their countries reported among the missing aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are both safe but their passports were stolen within the last two years. U.S. government sources told CNN both passports were stolen in Thailand. An extensive search of the South China Sea off Vietnam has turned up nothing more than a couple of oil slicks that were spotted Sunday by the Vietnamese air force just off the country's southern coast. That's where controllers lost all contact with a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 early Saturday local time. The 777 took off just after midnight Saturday Malaysia time and the airline said it "disappeared" about two hours later. It was carrying 229 passengers and 12 crew. The weather was good.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia have all sent ships and aircraft to take part in the search. There have been no confirmed sightings of wreckage. The oil slicks were six to ten miles long. The aircraft would have had most of a full load of fuel because it was only about two hours into the flight. Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record. The most recent accident involving the carrier was a Twin Otter involved in a landing accident on Borneo last October that killed the copilot and a passenger but before that the most recent crash was in 1977. It has a modern fleet, including 15 777s. AVweb will update with more details as they become available.