Search for Missing Malaysian Air Jet Widens, Possible Lifeboat Spotted
Experts Appear Stumped on Investigation
Despite a massive international investigation, few clues if any have emerged that point investigators to the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
The most recent clue emerged early Monday when a pilot spotted a possible lifeboat in the Gulf of Thailand. The Vietnam navy is sending a Mi 171 helicopter and DHC6 seaplane to investigate, according to the Xinhua news agency in China.
More than two days ago, the Boeing 777 disappeared from air-traffic control radar less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur Saturday morning. Its last-known location was over on the Vietnam side of the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand.
The aircraft was flying at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet in good weather. The usual causes of plane crashes include mechanical failure, bad weather, and pilot conditions. As experts have noted, planes don’t typically vanish or fall out of the sky absent sabotage or another catastrophic event.
None of the aircraft’s transmitters appear to have sent a distress signal before the jet disappeared.
Commercial airliners also have emergency locator beacons that are activated by impact on land or water but Malaysian aviation regulators say that these transmitters have not been sending signals.
On Sunday, Vietnamese authorities reported spotting what might be pieces of the plane roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of the jetliner’s original flight plan. The debris is believed to be a composite inner door and a piece of the 777’s tail, according to the Vietnam ministry of information and communication. Ships are at the site of the suspected debris but nothing has been located.
Officials continue to consider the possibility that the flight might have turned back toward Kuala Lumpur before vanishing. On Sunday, a pilot in an aircraft heading towards Narita said he established voice contact with MH370 after having been asked to do so by Vietnamese air traffic control.
An additional twist in the case has been the announcement that two passengers on board were apparently travelling on stolen Austrian and Italian passports. The issue came to light after the two passengers on the flight manifest from Austria and Italy emerged to say they were both alive. Both had had their passports stolen in Thailand.
The U.S. government is treating the plane’s disappearance as an accident, as evidenced by the fact that the National Transportation Safety Board and not the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other law enforcement agency is representing the
(Photo: Accura Media Group)