Search widens for missing Malaysia Airlines jet

Photo: AFP
Rescue teams looking for a missing Malaysia Airlines flight have widened their search area, the Malaysian transport minister says.
They are looking into the possibility that the plane had turned back, Hishammuddin Hussein said.
Officials say two passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines jet were traveling with stolen passports.
It follows reports that two of the passengers listed as travelling – an Italian and an Austrian – were not actually on the flight.
Two men listed on the passenger list — one from Italy and another from Austria — never boarded the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that disappeared early Saturday. Two-hundred-and-39 people were on board. 
Both men had their passports stolen in Thailand in the last two years. It is not clear who was flying with the stolen documents.
U.S. officials say they are still looking at the disappearance as if it is an accident, but Malaysian officials say they are not ruling anything out.
The passengers were of 14 different nationalities. Two-thirds were from China, while others were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.
Malaysia and Vietnam have both sent planes and naval vessels to look for the missing flight.
Rescue pilots from Vietnam say they spotted two large oil slicks in the waters off that country\’s southwestern coast, but no debris has been seen.
In a statement, the airline urged "all Malaysians and people around the world to pray for flight MH370".
The plane vanished at 17:30 GMT Friday (01:30 local time Saturday).
It reportedly went off the radar south of Vietnam.
According to Malaysian Airlines, it last had contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.
Distraught relatives and loved ones of those on board are being given assistance at both the arrival and departure airports.
Many have expressed anger at the lack of information.
Ships and planes from China, the Philippines, and the United States have also joined in the search.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. Most of the passengers were Chinese.
Air traffic controllers say they never received any distress calls before the jet disappeared.
The aircraft is a Boeing 777-200 — a very popular plane with an excellent safety record. The most recent accident involving a Boeing 777 was the Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport in July 2013. Three teenage girls from China died in that incident. Pilot error is suspected in that incident.
Source: VOA and agencies
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