LAST_UPDATESat, 21 Jul 2018 4pm

[NEWS ARCHIVE 10/3] MISSING BOEING 777: MAS KL-Beijing Flight MH370

PrayForMH370PrayForMH370[UPDATE 10.22PM] Raja Bomoh Arrives To Help Find Missing Plane

SEPANG - A shaman, claiming to be able to locate the missing MH370 jetliner, offered his expertise to help the authorities in their search.

Datuk Mahaguru Ibrahim Mat Zin, known as Raja Bomoh Sedunia Nujum VIP and 1Malaysia Corporate Bomoh said he suspects the missing aircraft was hijacked by elves (buniyan)

"According to my vision,a large black figure believed to be an eagle was seen flying over the plane after which the plane plunged.

"I have been using my bubu (traditional fishing tool) and bamboo scopes to see the situation there, and I saw that the aircraft is currently suspended in mid air," he said.

Ibrahim who claimed to have solved cases like the highland towers, mystery of villa Nabila, Mona Fandy and others, attracted a large crowd during his 'seeing' demonstration at the international arrival hall in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

- New Straits Times

[UPDATE 10.08PM] DCA: Mystery Duo On MH370 Not Asian, But Balotelli Lookalikes

SEPANG - Malaysian authorities today said they could conclusively say that the two passengers who boarded flight MH370 using stolen passports were not Asian, though it has not brought  them any closer to discovering their identities.

Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Razak said that investigators scrutinising the CCTV footage and screen captures of the two suspects confirmed that the suspects were not “Asian-looking” males.

“Do you know a footballer named Balotelli? They look like that,” he said at the day’s last press conference, referring to Italian national striker Mario Balotelli, who was born in Italy to Ghanaian parents.

- The Malay Mail

[UPDATE 9.54PM] Investigators Chasing 'Every Angle'

KUALA LUMPUR - Rescue helicopters and ships searching for a Malaysia Airlines jet rushed Monday to investigate a yellow object that looked like a life raft.

It turned out to be moss-covered trash floating in the ocean, once again dashing hopes after more than two days of fruitless search for the plane that disappeared en route to Beijing with 239 people on board.    
With no confirmation that the Boeing 777 had crashed, hundreds of distraught relatives waited anxiously for any news.

Thai police and Interpol questioned the proprietors of a travel agency in the resort town of Pattaya that sold one-way tickets to two men now known to have been traveling on flight MH370 using stolen passports.  
There has been no indication that the two men had anything to do with the tragedy, but the thefts of the passports fueled speculation of foul play, terrorism or a hijacking gone wrong. Malaysia has shared their details with Chinese and American intelligence agencies.  
Malaysia’s police chief was quoted by local media as saying that one of the men had been identified.

Civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman didn’t confirm this, but said they were of “non-Asian” appearance. He said authorities were looking at the possibility they were connected to a stolen passport syndicate, but declined to give any more details.   
The search operation has involved 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries covering a 50-nautical mile radius from the point the plane vanished from radar screens between Malaysia and Vietnam, he said.  
Experts say possible causes of the apparent crash include an explosion, catastrophic engine failure, terrorist attack, extreme turbulence, pilot error or even suicide.  
Selamat Omar, a Malaysian whose 29-year-old son Mohamad Khairul Amri Selamat was a passenger on the flight, expected a call from him at the 6.30 a.m. arrival time. Instead he got a call from the airline saying the plane was missing.  
“We accept God’s will. Whether he is found alive or dead, we surrender to Allah,” Selamat said.  
There have been a few glimmers of hope, but so far no trace of the plane has been found.  
On Sunday afternoon, a Vietnamese plane spotted a rectangular object that was thought to be one of the missing plane’s doors, but ships working through the night could not locate it.

Then on Monday, a Singaporean search plane spotted a yellow object some 140 kilometers (87 miles) southwest of Tho Chu island, but it turned out to be some sea trash.  
Malaysian maritime officials found some oil slicks in the South China Sea and sent a sample to a lab to see if it came from the plane. Tests showed that the oil was not from an aircraft, Azharuddin said.  
As relatives of the 239 people on the flight grappled with fading hope, attention focused on how two passengers managed to board the aircraft using stolen passports. Interpol confirmed it knew about the stolen passports but said no authorities checked its vast databases on stolen documents before the jet departed.  
Warning that “only a handful of countries” routinely make such checks, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble chided authorities for “waiting for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates.”  
The two stolen passports, one belonging to Austrian Christian Kozel and the other to Luigi Maraldi of Italy, were entered into Interpol’s database after they were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and last year, the police body said.  
Electronic booking records show that one-way tickets with those names were issued Thursday from a travel agency in the beach resort of Pattaya in eastern Thailand.  
Thai police Col. Supachai Phuykaeokam said those reservations were placed with the agency by a second travel agency in Pattaya, which told police it had received the bookings from a China Southern Airlines office in Bangkok.  
The owners of the second Pattaya travel agency refused to talk to reporters. Thai police and Interpol officers went in to question the owners.  
A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline confirmed Sunday that passengers named Maraldi and Kozel had been booked on one-way tickets on the same KLM flight, flying from Beijing to Amsterdam on Saturday.

Maraldi was to fly on to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany.   
As holders of EU passports with onward flights to Europe, the passengers would not have needed visas for China.  
Interpol said it and national investigators were working to determine the identities of those who used the stolen passports to board the flight.  
Interpol has long sounded the alarm that growing international travel has underpinned a new market for identity theft: Bogus passports are mostly used by illegal immigrants, but also pretty much anyone looking to travel unnoticed such as drug runners or terrorists.

More than 1 billion times last year, travelers boarded planes without their passports being checked against Interpol’s database of 40 million stolen or lost travel documents, the police agency said.  
Azharuddin also said the baggage of five passengers who had checked in to the flight but did not board the plane were removed before it departed, he said. Airport security was strict according to international standards, surveillance has been done and the airport has been audited, he said.

- AP

[UPDATE 9.45PM] CRSM Offers Help To Families Of Passengers

SEPANG: Twenty-five members of the MCA Crisis Relief Squad (CRSM) arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) here this morning to assist family members of passengers on board flight MH370 which was reported missing on Saturday.
The team was led by Datuk Yu Chok Tow who is also Head of the MCA President's Office. 
A source from the KLIA auxiliary police told Bernama that all the family members would be taken to the Everly Hotel near here but their numbers have not been verified.
Set up in 2004, the CRSM had been involved in various local and international crisis aid missions such as tsunami and flood disasters.
Meanwhile, reporters and cameramen were not allowed into the area believed to be the gathering point for family members of passengers on board flight MH370.
The first group of family members from Beijing, China are believed to have arrived in KLIA at 8am today but a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) spokesman did not want to comment on it when contacted.
Since 7am today, dozens of reporters and press photographers had gathered at the special staff walkway along the arrival hall on Level 3 of KLIA.
Also seen were volunteers of the Malaysian Tzu-Chi Association who were taken to a crew briefing room, believed to provide support to the families of the passengers. 
Yesterday, MAS, in a statement issued in Beijing, said it would fly the first group of family members here to provide the latest information.

- Bernama

[UPDATE 9.29PM] Blame Game Not Helping: Tun M

PUTRAJAYA - Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said playing the blame game on the plight of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft will not help in solving the mystery of the incident.

"Every unfortunate thing that happened is a lesson. I believe the authorities have done their best in the mission to search the missing airplane," he said.

He said it is up to the authorities to deal with the matter when commenting on the issue of the questionable security level at Kuala Lumpur International Airport following the case of two fake passports.

Mahathir, accompanied by his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah was here at the Everly Hotel to visit the families of the passengers onboard of missing MH370 flight.

Also present was his son, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, who was accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Norzieta Zakaria.

Commenting on the current condition of the family members, he urged the social media users to be more sensitive when posting or commenting on the incident as their actions had deeply hurt them.

"I met the families personally.

They have expressed that they felt tortured by the little information that they got after been waiting for so long.

"They also mentioned that preferrably, they do not want to get false information as they often disappointed by it after the official news announced the other way around.

"Therefore, I hope the public, particularly the social media user can be more sensitive about this," he told reporters after visiting the family members of passengers onboard MH370.

He also said that Kedahans will carry out solat hajat tonight to pray the best for the passengers.

- New Straits Times

[UPDATE 8.34PM] Next press conference tomorrow at 10AM

[UPDATE 8.32PM] It is suspected there is only one sample of oil spill

[UPDATE 8.29PM] The cockpit doors cannot be open from the outside

[UPDATE 8.27PM] It is still a search and rescue mission and not damage control.

[UPDATE 8.26PM] The weather for the last few nights has been fair. It is hoped it will continue.

[UPDATE 8.23PM] Vietnam media has reported what ever they found. But when ever Vietnam government contacted, they have denied. So people must not speculate.

[UPDATE 8.17PM] On the two passengers with stolen passports, all security protocols has been complied with. As for the features of the two passengers, they are confirmed that they are not Asian looking men

[UPDATE 8.16PM] Area of search has been expanded. Right now 100 nautical miles. Search on land has also been conducted even to the North of Sumatra

[UPDATE 8.15PM] There is still no confirmation that the debris is from aircraft. An answer should be availble by tommorrow.

[UPDATE 8.14PM] Press Conference By Director General Of Civil Aviation, Dato' Azharuddin Abdul Rahman

On the oil slip, the sample has been sent to chemistry department. The oil has been confirmed not to be from an aircraft.

[UPDATE 7.56PM] Families Speak Of Their Loved Ones

PUTRAJAYA - The Everly Hotel here today was abuzz with activities.
Apart from government representatives and volunteers to provide moral support and assistance, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was also present to meet relatives of passengers of MH370.
He spent some time talking to the relatives.
One of the family members, Puvaneswary P.G. Soosai, described her cousin Puspanathan Supramaniam, 34, who was onboard the missing MH370 flight as a cheerful and friendly individual.
"He is a good husband, a father and a friend to all of us.
"It was a big test for the family since Puspanathan's absence three days ago since he was the main breadwinner."
Stating that his destination to Beijing was for work purposes, Puvaneswary said as an IT engineer, his job requires him to 80 per cent travel overseas.
She said the family remained positive despite waiting in the dark for the missing airplane.
"We want him to come back as he had promised to celebrate his sister's birthday after his work is done," she said.
Selamat Omar, 60, from Pahang said he was ready to accept whatever fate that befalls his son Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat.
"We leave everything to Allah now.
"I have already informed all my relatives of the incident. Some came all the way from Johor and Pahang to give us moral support," said Selamat, looking calm.
Selamat said he was happy with all the attention given by the authorities, non governmental organisations and the media as it could help him ease his restlessness and distress.
Mohd Khairul Amri has always been an ambitious aircraft engineer, according to his father.

- New Straits Times

[UPDATE 7.52PM] Airport Security Spotlighted Over Missing Plane

KUALA LUMPUR - Revelations that at least two people used stolen passports to board a missing passenger jet raise serious “red flags” about security at Malaysia’s main international airport, analysts and Interpol have warned.
However, they cautioned against a rush to judgement, citing ongoing  investigations and widespread disregard of international databases on stolen  passports.
Flight MH370 disappeared over the waters between Malaysia and southern  Vietnam early Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No traces of the  plane have been confirmed found.
Malaysia has said it is looking at a possible terror motive in the plane’s  disappearance after at least two people used stolen passports to pass security  at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
“It’s rather surprising but it obviously raises a red flag,” said Chris de  Lavigne, an aviation and defense analyst for consultancy Frost and Sullivan.
“We can’t look into this too much until further information is available,  but it’s definitely a red flag,” he told AFP.
Malaysia has not been the target of any notable terror attacks in recent  years, but it is home to several suspected key figures in militant Islamic  groups such as the al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah.
KLIA is about one hour’s drive south of the capital Kuala Lumpur and has  long been considered one of Southeast Asia’s top airports.
But Interpol, which maintains a database of stolen passports, said in a  strongly worded statement that no one checked the database ahead of the  Malaysian flight’s take-off.
“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these  stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any  passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport  listed in Interpol’s databases,” its secretary general Ronald Noble said.
He said that despite Interpol pushing for years for immigration staff to  check the database, “only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to  make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding  international flights.”    
“This is a situation we had hoped never to see,” he said, adding that last  year passengers boarded planes more than a billion times without having their  passports screened against the database. 
The database was created in 2002 following the September 11, 2001,  terrorist attacks.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport has had some minor security issues  before.
Malaysia Airlines was fined in 2012 for allowing a Malaysian to board a  flight from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland despite a directive from New Zealand  officials not to check the passenger in.
The airline’s check-in attendant circumvented the system by changing the  passenger’s passport number, leading to the NZ$5,500 ($4,650) fine by a court  in New Zealand.
In 2007, a Palestinian stowaway hid in the nose wheel well of a plane,  leaving Malaysian authorities puzzled how he breached airport ground security  to reach neighbouring Singapore without being spotted. 
Malaysian authorities, left red-faced by the recent apparent security  breach, have also raised questions, and immigration has launched an internal  probe on the officers who did not detect the false passports.
“I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think: an  Italian and Austrian but with Asian facial features,” Home Minister Zahid  Hamidi said, according to national news agency Bernama.
Immigration officials when contacted declined to comment.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has said authorities would review “all security  protocols” and enhance them “if needed”.    
“The security in KLIA is already compliant with international standards,”  Department of Civil Aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters  Monday.
Kumar Ramakrishna, a security expert at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of  International Studies, said it should be easy for authorities to quickly access  Interpol’s database.
“It may not be fair to finger the whole system in place there (at Kuala  Lumpur International Airport),” he said.
“The key thing is that countries should make it a point to be  electronically linked to the Interpol database — as an added and important  layer in the range of border controls to detect false travel documentation used  by drug mules or terrorists.”    
Shukor Yusof, aviation analyst with Standard & Poor’s, has said the sheer  volume of travellers moving through airports likely means not all forgeries can  be caught, and stolen passports do not necessarily equate to terrorism.
“To blame Malaysian authorities for this is probably unfair — they have to  get it right all the time and potential hijackers just have to get through  once,” he said.



[UPDATE 7.18PM]  Families Cling To Faint Hopes - Psychologist

Relatives of Chinese passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were holding onto a “thin ray of hope” their loved ones were alive, a psychologist told AFP Monday.

Lack Of Information Angers Relatives

Fed up with awaiting word on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, relatives of passengers in Beijing lashed out at the carrier with a handwritten ultimatum and an impromptu news conference.

[UPDATE 7.04PM] Indonesian President Monitors Search

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono continues to monitor the latest development in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane with seven Indonesian nationals on board, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.

Heartbreaking Video Tribute

A stirring video expressing love for the 239 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight that went missing over the South China Sea early Saturday morning has captured the attention of netizens.

Oil Sample Not From Airliner

The oil slick found a location 20 nautical miles from one of the last known coordinates of MH370 is not from the missing airliner.

Special China Team To Help Locate Missing Plane

A special team from China, comprising high-ranking officials, arrived here yesterday to assist in efforts to locate Malaysian Airlines (MAS) MH370 aircraft which disappeared from the radar screen on March 7.

Family Members Prepared To Face Any Possibility

Family members of Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat are prepared to accept whatever happens to Malaysia Airlines engineer, who are among the passengers on board MAS flight MH370 that went missing last Saturday, with an open heart, regardless of him being dead or alive.

Debris Resembling Aircraft Tail Just Logs

A number of rescue aircraft searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane spotted what looked like the tail of an aircraft in the South China Sea, but ships rushed to the spot found it to be logs tied together to form a pontoon.

Prayers Continue For Safety Of Passengers, Crew

Malaysians continue to offer special prayers for the safety of the passengers and crew of MAS Flight MH370 which has gone missing since March 8.

[UPDATE 6.34PM] Oil Slick Tests Negative - MMEA

Eastern region enforcement chief of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Datuk Nasir Adam says: Tests done on sample taken from oil slick found off the coast of Kelantan is not from the missing MH370 flight but from bunkering activities.

[UPDATE 6.05PM] Vietnam Rescuers Retrieve Floating Object, Say Not A Plane Life Raft

A Vietnamese rescue helicopter has retrieved a floating yellow object from the sea and determined it was not a life raft from a missing Malaysian plane, as was earlier suspected, the country’s civil aviation authority said today.

Still No Sign Of Malaysian Jet Lost In "Unprecedented Mystery"

The disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner is an "unprecedented aviation mystery", a senior official said on Monday, with a massive air and sea search now in its third day failing to find any confirmed trace of the plane or the 239 people aboard.

Don't Spread Unverified News, Says Hishammuddin

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein has cautioned the people not to spread unverified news of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Vietnam Doing Its Best In SAR Mission

Vietnamese authorities are doing their best to help Malaysia in search and rescue (SAR) operations to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH370 aircraft.

[UPDATE 5.41PM] Malaysian Ships To Investigate Possible Life Raft

Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) head Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said they received a report that an aircraft had seen something like an inverted life raft.

Azharuddin said; "So we are contacting our counterparts, we are sending ships there to verify the object, the parts."

"At the moment we have not received any report on the matter. So we are still waiting for the report," he said.


[UPDATE 4.53PM] SAR area in the West Coast has been expanded.

[UPDATE 4.42PM] New Zealand sent its P3 Orion vessel to help search and rescue mission.

[UPDATE 4.39PM] 40 Million Travel On False Passports

Interpol: 40 million worldwide cases of passengers travelling with false passports.

[UPDATE 4.35PM] SAR Coordinates To Be Released Soon

Search And Rescue (SAR) coordinates will be made public soon.

[UPDATE 4.32PM] CCTV Footage To Be Released Soon

Hishammuddin: CCTV footage featuring passengers boarding the plane with fake passports will be released soon.

[UPDATE 4.29 PM] Press Conference with Datuk Seri Hishammuddin

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein is pleased with the overwhelming assistance from neighbouring countries in ivestigating the missing MH370 flight mystery.

[UPDATE 4.25PM] ‘Unaccompanied Baggage’ Removed From Flight MH370

THE baggage of the five passengers who were reported not aboard flight MH370 were taken off the flight before it departed, Department of Civil Aviation confirmed.

The agency's Datuk Azharudin Abdul Rahman said in an earlier press conference, it is a standard operating procedure for Malaysia Airlines to remove all unaccompanied baggage (baggage of passengers not on board) before any flight takes off.

“Each baggage is given a unique serial number and it is attached to the passenger’s boarding pass. This is to ensure the bags can be traced,” he said.

“Every baggage will go through an X-Ray scanner to make sure it doesn't have any inappropriate items for take-off,” he added.
 - mD

[UPDATE 3.51PM] 1,788 Fishing Boats, 17,800 Crewmen Deployed

PUTRAJAYA - The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry have deployed 1,788 fishing boats within the east and west coast of peninsula water to assist in the search and rescue mission of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 aircraft.

Its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the grade C2 boats, amounting 17,880 crewmen are from Kelantan, Terengganu, Perak, Perlis and Penang.

"The fishermen are expert and familiar with the areas. We wish they can give a lead to the mystery incident.

"If they find anything unusual while carrying out their daily works, they can report to the relevant authorities," he told the media after visiting the families of missing passengers at Everly Hotel here today.

He was speaking in reference to the statement by the Acting Transport minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein on the discussion of deploying the fishermen to aid the mission.

He also said that the ministry had also sought help from the neighbour countries, including Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam's fisheries authorities.

"We already contacted our Indonesia counterpart yesterday after the discussion with Hishamuddin while in the progress of contacting the other countries.

Earlier, Ismail Sabri delivered necessary needs to the more than 100 family members who are placed at the hotel since Saturday night.

- New Straits Times

[UPDATE 3.45PM] 'Mystified' As No Jet Debris Found

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia said Monday there is still no trace of wreckage from a jet that vanished with 239 people on board, deepening the anguish of relatives two days after the “mystifying” disappearance.

A potential breakthrough emerged Sunday when an aircraft scouring waters  off southern Vietnam — part of an international search and rescue effort —  spotted two objects authorities said could be debris from Malaysia Airlines  flight MH370.
But Malaysian authorities said there was no confirmation they came from the  Boeing 777 which slipped off radar screens early on Saturday, an hour after  leaving Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.
“Unfortunately ladies and gentleman, we have not found anything that  appears to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft itself,” said  Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.
“This unprecedented missing aircraft mystery — it is mystifying and we are  increasing our efforts to do what we have to do,” he told a press conference.
Malaysia has launched a terror probe after at least two of the passengers  on board were found to have travelled on stolen passports. 
But Azharuddin had few answers to the burning questions surrounding the  plane’s fate. Asked whether it was possible the plane had been hijacked or  disintegrated mid-air, he said nothing could be ruled out.
“We are looking at every angle. We are looking at every aspect of what  could have happened,” he said. “Again, we have to get concrete evidence... we  have to find the aircraft.”    
More than 150 Chinese are among the missing passengers and Beijing’s state  media on Monday lashed out at Malaysia and its national carrier over their  handling of the crisis.
“The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities,” the Global Times  newspaper, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, wrote in a scathing  editorial.
“The initial response from Malaysia was not swift enough.”        
At a Beijing hotel, Malaysian embassy officials were processing visa  applications for families wanting to take up an airline offer to travel to  Kuala Lumpur to be closer to the rescue operations.
Scores of relatives made their way into the room, some in groups of five or  six, clutching handkerchiefs and wiping away tears from their faces.
Others said they would not go. “There is more we can do here in China,” one  woman told AFP. “They haven’t even found the plane yet.”    
A team of Chinese officials from government ministries headed for Malaysia  on Monday, tasked with investigating the incident and helping family members  already there.
As the search entered a third full day, other families of missing  passengers gathered at a hotel in Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya,  sharing breakfast as they stared intently at television news bulletins.
The search effort has zeroed in on waters off the remote Vietnamese island  of Tho Chu, near where two large oil slicks — suspected to be caused by  aircraft fuel — as well as the suspected debris were spotted on the weekend.
“All night we mobilised our most modern equipment for the search... but we  found no sign of the objects,” Vice Admiral Ngo Van Phat told AFP of the hunt  centred on Vietnam’s southwestern tip.
Tests on the oil slick that could indicate whether it came from the missing  plane could be completed by later Monday, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency  director general Amdan Kurish told AFP.
Malaysian authorities said they were also combing waters closer to their  shores, further south of Tho Chu.
A total of 40 ships and 34 aircraft from an array of Southeast Asian  countries, China and the United States have been involved in the search, with  two Australian surveillance aircraft joining.
As they scramble to discover what happened, Malaysian officials have said  there was a possibility that MH370 may have inexplicably turned back towards  Kuala Lumpur.
The plane, captained by a veteran MAS pilot, had relayed no indications of  distress, and weather at the time was said to be good.
Questions have also swirled over how at least two passengers boarded the  jet on stolen passports, sparking an investigation into possible links with  terrorism and a probe into the sale of passports in Thailand — where the  documents were stolen over the past two years.
Two European names — Christian Kozel, an Austrian, and Luigi Maraldi of  Italy — were listed on the passenger list, but neither man boarded the plane. 
Malaysia’s Home Minister Zahid Hamidi reportedly said Sunday that the two  passengers who did board using those passports looked Asian in appearance.
“I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think: an  Italian and Austrian but with Asian facial features,” Zahid was quoted as  saying by Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama.
Interpol confirmed that “at least two passports” recorded in its Stolen and  Lost Travel Documents database were used by passengers on the Malaysian flight.
The United States has sent an FBI team to help investigate the passengers,  but US officials stressed there was as yet no evidence of terrorism.
Malaysia Airlines shares lost 10 percent in early trading Monday as the  market reacted to the jet’s disappearance.
The incident is a massive blow for the carrier which has haemorrhaged cash  for several years amid mounting competition from low-cost rivals such as  AirAsia.


[UPDATE 3.23PM] Roses Presented To MAS Crew, Media Personnels

SEPANG - Malaysian Youth Council (MAB) presented 500 stalks of roses to Malaysians Airlines (MAS) support staff, crew, Immigration officers and media personnel here at the Anjung Tinjau in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

This was to show appreciation and support for their dedication and hard work throughout the last three days since the news of the missing flight broke on Saturday.

Council vice president, Law Eng Tack urged Malaysians to be united in spirit and extend their gratitude to their endless efforts in handling the delicate and difficult situation.

"It's our duty to also acknowledge the work and the sacrifices of the people behind the scene who are working around the clock," he said, adding that the flower symbolises hope and love.

Further, MAB members nationwide will also be performing solat hajat for the safe return of the passengers and crew members of flight MH370.

Some of 100 members from the council, including culinary arts students from Butter and Olive College in Petaling Jaya who cooked and packed meals for the airport staff.

- New Straits Times

[UPDATE 3.14PM] No Objects Found

SEPANG - As the search and rescue (SAR) operations to locate the missing Boeing 777-200ER enter its third day today, the authorities have yet to make any headway in finding the ill-fated aircraft.

Addressing reporters here this morning, Department of Civil Aviation Director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the SAR teams were still working round the clock and comb the seas.

"Unfortunately, we have not found anything any objects belonging to the aircraft, let alone the plane itself," he said, adding that SAR efforts were intensifying.

On the reports of two oil slicks found on the southern tip of Vietnam, Azharuddin said samples of the oil had been sent to the Chemistry Department.

"We hope the oil belongs to the missing aircraft," he said, adding that no objects belonging to the plane had been recovered by the SAR teams.

Responding to reports that the Vietnamese team had spotted an object resembling a "door" belonging to the aircraft, Azharuddin categorically denied it.

"No object was picked up. There was another report claiming that the tail of the plane was found, but they were only logs tied together."

He also did not entertain questions pertaining to ongoing investigations on a possible hijacking, saying he did not want to "compromise the investigation".

He also assured the public that security at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was not in question as it met international security standards.

- New Straits Times

[UPDATE 2.52PM] Man Claims Possible Sighting Of Airliner

KELANTAN - A businessman in Ketereh claimed that he saw a bright white light, believed to be of an aircraft, descending at high speed towards the South China Sea about 1.45am on the day flight MH370 went missing.

Alif Fathi Abdul Hadi, 29, told the New Straits Times what he saw after lodging a report with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) in Tok Bali earlier today.

Alif said he was in the compound of his home when he saw the bright white light, which he described as similar to the ones used by airplanes during night flights.

"I was walking towards my back door when I caught a glimpse of the white light.

"It was moving towards the sea, towards Bachok area, which was unusual.

"Usually, aircrafts that fly over here have their usual route pattern, but this one went completely towards the other way," he said.

Alif said he watched the light's movement for about five minutes, before realising that it was descending.

However, he said he was not sure that it was an airplane as he only saw the light.

He said there was no blinking red light.

"I did not think much about it, and went to sleep.

"Only the next day, when I heard the news on the radio, I thought that the light I saw could be from the aircraft's.

"After discussing with my family members, they advised me to lodge a report, and I hope this information can be of any help," he said.

Alif was accompanied by his uncle Rosman Ishak, 55, when he lodged the report.

- New Straits Times


[UPDATED 2.20PM] Press Conference:

Anything is possible

Department of Civil Aviation's Datuk Azharudin Abdul Rahman said the agency is considering all possibilities in investigating the missing flight MH370 case.

Among these possibilities include mid-air disintegration, a hijack, air turn-back and the plane is crashed.

"We are not ruling out any possibilities and we are investigating all of these, but we can't give any confirmation yet as there has yet to be any hard evidence to determine what actually happened to the aircraft," said Azharudin.

On the two passengers traveling with fake passport, the authorities are currently looking into claim. Relevant records are being evaluated and video footages examined.

“We can’t reveal too much as we are still investigating,” said Azharudin.

Object found was not tail of the aircraft

DCA's Datuk Azharudin Abdul Rahman said the object that was spotted by two aircrafts which looked like the tail of an aircraft was actually logs.

"When we sent a team to check it out, the object was actually just logs," he said.

Updating on the oil slicks, Azharudin said that the oil sample was sent to a lab and and results have yet to surface.

Azharudin told the the media they  will be informed once the lab results are out.

Clearer explanation, but the uncertainties remain

MAS Flight MH370 has gone missing more than 60 hours now and patience is running low with many demanding answers for what had happened to the flight.

In a press conference conducted at 12pm just now, Department of Civil Aviation's Datuk Azharudin Abdul Rahman said the authorities have yet to give any confirmation as they do not have any hard proofs to back any of the claims.

""We are equally puzzled with what happened, together with the experts and the Prime Minister even used the term 'perplexing' to describe this incident.

"However, we still need hard evidence to determine what happen to the aircraft," Azharudin said.

All search and rescue teams are currently conducting thorough rescue and search operation and they have widen the search area in the South China Sea, where the location of the aircraft was last seen.

"We have also conducted search around the North Straits of Malacca too," said Azharudin.

To date, local authorities have received the co-operation from neighbouring countries who had sent various large assets among which are several aircrafts, ships and personnel members.

The countries that have joined forces to help the seacrh and rescue mission are Vietnam, China, Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, Thailand, Australia and the Phillipines.

In the press conference, Azharudin responded well to the media. He explained the search by air is being done daily from 7am to 7pm while the ship search is being carried out throughout the night.

Despite the throrough search and rescue mission, the uncertaities remain.

"We have yet to find anything yet. There was a Vietnamese report claiming that they have indentified an object that appeared to look like the door of an aircraft. But this was not the case," said Azharudin.


[UPDATED 11.00AM]  

Chinese Passengers Family Members Arrive At KLIA

SEPANG: The family members of the Chinese passengers of Flight MH370 arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport this morning from Beijing.

Upon arrival at the airport, they were received by officials from MAS.

The family members flew to Malaysia to obtain the latest updates on the situation.

MAS Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing about an hour after taking off from KLIA at 12.40am Saturday.

New Straits Times


Australia Sends Second Aircraft To Search For Missing MH370

MELBOURNE: Australia this morning sent a second RAAF aircraft from Darwin to join the search for a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that has been missing since early Saturday.

Australia sent an RAAF AP-3C Orion last night and a second aircraft left Darwin at 8.30am (AEDT) today, the Australian Associated Press reported.

Air Marshal Mark Binskin said the maritime patrol and long-range surveillance aircraft were equipped with sensors and electro-optic detectors that were ideal for the operation.

There are 18 Australian crew on board each RAAF jet.

Six Australians and two New Zealanders, one of whom lives in Perth, were on the MAS plane that disappeared over the South China Sea early Saturday morning, one hour into what should have been a six-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Authorities are examining links to terrorism as two of the flight’s 227 passengers were found to have used stolen passports.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been in touch with her Malaysian counterpart to offer Australia’s support.

She said the reports of stolen passports were concerning.

“There may be no connection at all but it is a worrying development,” Bishop told ABC radio today.

“Our officials are in urgent and ongoing contact with authorities in Malaysia.”

Malaysia has set up a rescue co-ordination centre and dozens of ships and aircraft were looking for the missing aircraft, she said.

China, the Philippines, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam have also sent resources to join the search.

Families of the Australians on board were receiving consular assistance, Bishop said.

MAS Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing about an hour after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.41am on Saturday. It should have landed in Beijing at 6.30am.



Government Will Do Its Best In SAR Operation, Says PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today pledged that the government would do its best in the search and rescue (SAR) operation for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, which was reported missing on Saturday.

“I assure you we are doing everything possible within our means.

“We thank you for your prayers, assistance and show of solidarity,” Najib said in his Twitter account tonight.

Meanwhile, in his other tweet earlier, Najib said when Malaysia faced difficulties many countries came forward and offered assistance in the name of friendship.

“In our time of need, friendship has come in many forms. We will continue our efforts to search for MH370,” the prime minister said.

Among the countries that offered assistance to Malaysia were China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia as well as the US.

The MAS MH370 flight, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing about an hour after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.41am Saturday.

It should have landed in Beijing at 6.30am the same day.



Amid Heightened Emotions, MAS Volunteers Soldier On To Support Families

PUTRAJAYA: As night fell on the second day of the search for flight MH370, the lobby of The Everly Hotel was heavy with the weight of solemn yearning by relatives of the passengers of the missing plane.

People who were once strangers stood around talking about their loved ones, asking about each other’s families as they continued to hope for the best.

The buzz generated by the throng of journalists looking to speak to distraught family members earlier in the day had quietened down, as most joined those gathered in the hotel to quietly watch the news on television to get a rundown on the day’s events.

And all the while, volunteers from Malaysia Airlines’ emergency operations centre (EOC) continued their vigil as they remained at the ready to assist anxious relatives waiting for any news on the missing passengers.

It had been a hard day all round, and clearly a challenging time for the volunteers as they tried their best to manage the crush of media workers camped out at the hotel lobby and raging tempers of some family members who were unhappy with the lack of information coming their way.

Even as one relative angrily shoved away a volunteer who tried to stop a group of journalists from interviewing him, they could only ask for everyone’s co-operation and try their best to keep the peace.

A volunteer later explained that while they were not given orders to bar family members from speaking to the media, they were advised to minimise contact between worried relatives and journalists looking for stories. This was to avoid fanning already high emotions.

Though the day had since wound down for most at the hotel, the volunteers remained on duty, periodically checking on how the family members were holding up and making sure they were comfortable.

“Regardless of whether we know the crew on the missing plane or not, we are now in crisis mode and we just have to do our jobs,” a senior company executive on the EOC said when contacted, referring to the 12 crew members on board flight MH370.

The senior executive, who declined to be named, noted that once Code Red is activated, volunteers are put on 24-hour shifts wherever they are required to provide whatever assistance they can.

This applied to the group of 90 over GoTeam volunteers who landed in Beijing yesterday morning, as with the EOC volunteers stationed at The Everly and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“There is no fixed pattern for the shifts, but it will be at least 24 hours. As long as we are in crisis, we will just keep going... it will be a long period for all of us,” the executive added.

The fate of the 239 lives onboard the missing Boeing 777-200 remains unknown, as over 80 maritime vessels and aircraft were dispatched by Malaysian, Singaporean, Chinese, Vietnamese, American and Australian authorities to help the search and rescue operations.

Full search and rescue efforts resumed at first light today.

The Malay Mail


Internal Probe On Immigration Department Has Begun, Says Zahid

PUTRAJAYA: An internal investigation on the Immigration Department has commenced following reports that two passengers were using stolen passports to board the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the detailed investigation would give special attention to the department’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) branch.

“We will conduct an internal probe, particularly on the officers, who were on duty at the KLIA Immigration counter during flight MH370.

“I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think, an Italian and Austrian (passengers) but with Asian facial features,” he told reporters at the Kembara Bumi Suci 2014 convoy participants meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at Seri Perdana here yesterday.

Ahmad Zahid said the investigation was conducted by a special team, led by Immigration Department Director-General Datuk Aloyah Mamat.

Currently, no conclusion could be made pertaining to the issue as the investigation had only commenced once the actual passport holders claimed that their passports were stolen, he said.

Ahmad Zahid said it was difficult to determine the authenticity of an international passport that was being brought by a passport holder because not all countries used the biometric system and bar code as in Malaysia.

Civil Aviation Director-General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman in a media conference in Sepang yesterday that only two passengers had false passports to board flight MH370, which was its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Both passengers involved had used the Italian and Austrian passports.

Flight MH370, with 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members was reported missing from the radar at 1.30am on Saturday, about an hour after departing from KLIA.

The plane carried passengers from 14 countries, including 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.



Authorities Should Have Noticed Disappearance After 40 Minutes, Says Flightradar24

PETALING JAYA: FLIGHTRADAR24 (FR24) chief executive officer Fredrik Lindahl said Malaysian authorities could have conducted precise search and rescue operations if they had noted MH370 dropping from the radar after 40 minutes and not after two hours.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) only confirmed Flight MH370’s disappearance after 15 hours at 10pm on Saturday, the last reported position by FR24 showed.

“We were not aware of the situation until MAS went public with a statement after five hours,” he said.

“At that point we could only check our historic data for the flight.

“Unfortunately, there’s no way for us to tell when an accident has happened.

“FR24 is not affiliated with any emergency agencies because we only function as a real-time flight tracking service.

“However, the incorrect time reports by MAS delayed search and rescue operations.”

The MAS Boeing 777 flight was reported missing between Malaysia and Vietnam.

The aircraft took off from Kuala Lumpur at 16.41 UTC time (12:41am Malaysian time) on Saturday and disappeared from Flightradar24 at 17.20 UTC (1.20am).

At 23.24 UTC (7.24am) MAS said the aircraft had lost contact with air traffic control at 18.40 UTC (2.40am) — two hours after take-off.

It took 11 hours until a search and rescue operation was started in the areas surrounding the Gulf of Thailand at 03.00 UTC (10pm), where Flightradar24 reported it lost radar contact.

“This incorrect time report made the media speculate all night about a crash in the jungle somewhere between Vietnam and China,” Lindahl said.

“It’s frustrating that incorrect reports were made instead of using FR24’s precise report.”

Flightradar24 is a flight tracking service that provides real-time information on thousands of aircraft around the world.

Its services are available online and through mobile phone apps. 
Boeing declined to provide any statement regarding its efforts.

It released a press statement on Saturday, in which it offered its deepest concern to families of those onboard MH370.

It also stated that Boeing will provide the US National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) with technical advisers, who are en route to offer assistance.

The Malay Mail


Official: FBI Not In On MH370 Crash Probe; Other US Agencies Arrive Today

NEW YORK: The FBI has not sent agents to Kuala Lumpur to assist in the investigation of a Malaysian Airlines plane that went missing on Saturday, according to a senior US law-enforcement official, though representatives from other US agencies and plane-maker Boeing are expected to arrive today.

The plane, a 777-200ER, disappeared suddenly, and though no wreckage has been found, the 239 passengers and crew aboard flight MH370 are presumed dead.

So far, Malaysia has not asked for help from the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security, and the agencies have not sent investigators, a second official said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

The FBI and other US law-enforcement agencies have offered to help, the second official said, and they have forensic and analytic tools and criminal investigation expertise that likely could help the probe.

Because no wreckage has been located, the legal jurisdiction for the crash has not been determined and no government or agency is formally in charge.

On Saturday, a small team of experts from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing departed for Kuala Lumpur and were expected to arrive there today.

That team also has not been formally invited to participate, because no authority has taken charge of the investigation yet.

"It's a small team," said NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel, declining to give a precise number. "Just enough to have some boots on the ground to be able to mobilise quickly if they're able to locate the aircraft."

The FAA said one of its staff was on the team. Boeing declined repeated requests for comment.

Officials investigating the disappearance suspect the plane may have disintegrated in mid-flight, a senior source close to the investigation said on yesterday, as Vietnam reported a possible sighting of wreckage from the plane.

Asked about the possibility of an explosion, such as a bomb, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play and that the aircraft could have broken up due to mechanical causes.

An authoritative US government source said the United States has extensively reviewed imagery taken by its spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but seen none. The source said US satellite coverage of the region is thorough.

But the source indicated this did not categorically rule out an explosion.



Conspiracy Theories Abound As Search For MH370 Enters Third Day

KUALA LUMPUR: Over 50 hours have passed since MH370 was reported lost from radar and still, there is little to go on.

Intensive, round-the-clock efforts by an army of rescue workers from at least seven countries, manning as many as 72 vessels by air and by sea have failed to turn up a single indication that the Boeing B777-200 aircraft carrying a staggering 239 people had crashed.

There has been no confirmed signs of wreckage or debris, no distress signal from the aircraft before it lost contact with ground control, and no clear indication that the plane had experienced any technical failure in mid-air.

During take-off at 12.41am on Saturday, weather conditions appeared normal.

The aircraft, described as one of the “safest”, was said to be equipped with the ASD-B flight transponder, which transmits data on its altitude, speed and direction back to air traffic controllers every second.

It also has the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), which can be manually activated by the pilot or should transmit information on the aircraft’s location in the event of a crash.

As such, if the plane was experiencing problems in mid-flight, it should have been able to transmit a distress signal back to ground control. The fact that this did not happen has led to speculation on the behaviour of the aircraft at the time it went missing.

The Beijing-bound airship was piloted by 53-year-old Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a man described by news reports as a “tech geek” so passionate about flying that he even practices on his own flight simulator at home. Zaharie has more than 18,600 flying hours under his belt in the three decades he has served MAS.

Was MH370 Captain Zaharie’s last flight?

If indeed the aircraft had disintegrated in mid-air due to mechanical failure, it would have happened so quickly that there was no time for the plane to inform ground control. Even so, there should be some semblance of debris in the water for rescuers to find.

If indeed the aircraft had crashed into the ocean, search and rescue efforts should have turned up some telltale discoveries by now.

If indeed the aircraft sank into the waters without leaving behind signs of wreckage, it would have taken some time before it disappeared completely from sight. Again, rescuers should have caught at least a glimpse of the airship before it went down.

But Malaysians and the rest of the world woke this morning only to find out that search and rescue efforts, now entering into their third day, have turned up nothing.

It was as if flight MH370 had vanished into thin air, taking with it the lives of 239 people.

Without any sign of the missing aircraft, the only leads the authorities, and the watching world, have to go on are the many speculative, conspiracy theories that have emerged since MH370 disappeared from sight.

Most significant are the reports alleging the possibility of terror links to some of those onboard the missing aircraft.

It has been confirmed that two passengers were allowed to board the aircraft using the stolen passports belonging to one Italian and one Austrian national.

Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) touched down in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and met with Malaysian intelligence officers to investigate the possibility that a more serious security breach had led to MH370’s disappearance.

According to Interpol, there were no checks on the two passports that were listed on its database between the time the documents were stolen and the flight’s departure.

“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol’s databases,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a statement, according to international news agency Reuters.

Adding to the intrigue, Interpol said it has widened its probe to other suspect passports, “which may have been reported stolen”.

“This is a situation we had hoped never to see. For years Interpol has asked why should countries wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates,” Noble was quoted as saying.

According to CNN, the duo, who somehow gave local immigration officers the slip, appear to have bought their tickets together.

The two tickets were bought from China Southern Airlines in Thai baht for identical prices and had contiguous numbers, the international broadcaster reported on its website yesterday, citing information from China’s official e-ticket verification system Travelsky.

That the two tickets had adjoining numbers showed they were issued together, CNN said.

The revelation is likely to deepen speculation of foul play over the missing plane.

Malaysian authorities have also confirmed that two passengers had boarded the missing Beijing-bound flight under dubious identities.

“There are only two passengers on record on this aircraft with false passports and we have the CCTV recordings of those passengers from check in, right to the departure point and this record of the CCTVs are now being used in investigations on this,” Department of Civil Aviation Director-General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters at the Sama Sama Hotel in Sepang earlier.

Following these reports, talk of terrorism, bombing and hijacking of MH370 were bandied about repeatedly yesterday.

According to Singapore’s The Straits Times yesterday, the authorities were not ruling out Uighur involvement in the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370.

Quoting Malaysian officials familiar with the ongoing probe, the daily said investigators are keeping their minds open to the possibility.

The daily noted that the plane’s disappearance had coincidentally come just a week after knife-wielding assailants killed nearly 20 people at a train station in Kunming, China. The killings have been linked to China’s Uighur Muslim minority group.

“One of the Malaysian officials said the authorities were not ruling out Uighur involvement in the jet’s disappearance, noting that Uighurs were deported to China from Malaysia in 2011 and 2012 for carrying false passports,” ST reported.

“This is not being ruled out. We have sent back Uighurs who had false passports before. It is too early to say whether there is a link,” one official was quoted as saying.

ST reminded that in 2011, Malaysia had deported 11 Uighurs who were allegedly linked to a human trafficking syndicate.

Back in Kuala Lumpur, the official line taken by Malaysian government and aviation officials was one of caution.

Asked if terrorism and hijacking have been ruled out in the disappearance of MH370, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman only had one response: “We are looking at all possibilities.”

Despite the authorities’ refusal to divulge more information, and the endless number of theories and uncertainties, however, only one thing has remained true so far — flight MH370 still remains missing.

The Malay Mail


Company Exec Not Supposed To Be On Board, Says Wife

SEPANG: Tan Ku Leng said her husband, Stanley Wong Sai Sang, was not supposed to be on Flight MH370.

She said Wong had missed an earlier flight and was forced to board the Malaysia Airlines plane that departed KL International Airport at 12.41am on Saturday.

“He missed his flight last night (Friday) and bought another ticket to be on the next flight to Beijing,” Tan said at KL International Airport.

She said Wong, a senior marketing manager, flew to Beijing with two colleagues to promote their company’s products.

“He turned 52 yesterday (Friday) but he did not celebrate his birthday with us as he had to head straight to the airport after work. I spoke to him briefly and he was scheduled to return on Monday.”

Former Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu was present to lend support to Wong’s family.

He said he and Wong studied together at Sekolah Menengah Raub, Pahang.

“I was attending a meeting in Shah Alam when I saw his name on the passenger list. I rushed to the airport to be with his family,” Liu said.

“I wished him happy birthday on Wednesday and he replied via Facebook. That was the last I heard from him.”

The Malay Mail


Devastated But The Gomes Family Says They Will Not Give Up Hope

PETALING JAYA: The family and relatives of inflight supervisor Patrick Francis Gomes continues to hope for his safe return.

His cousin, Rachel Santa Maria, 50, said although what had happened was shocking and devastating for the family, they would not give up hope.

“We refuse to accept the situation. We are waiting and praying and hoping for the best,” she said.

Santa Maria said Gomes’s immediate family members had been staying at Sama-Sama Hotel at KL International Airport since Saturday as they await a flight out to a yet undisclosed location by Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

“MAS has been doing a good job in providing food and meeting our needs,” she said.

She said the congregation at St Francis Xavier Church in Petaling Jaya, where Gomes’s family attends weekly mass, had organised special prayers for the family as well as all the other passengers and crew members.

“His wife and four children are in a fragile state. So we as the family can only pray and hope he returns safely,” she said.

Many friends and family members showed their concern and support on Gomes’s Facebook wall.

One message from Pius Eugene at 11am yesterday read: “My great friend from schooldays in Section 17 PJ. I was with him when he went for both interviews for his first job as a MAS flight attendant ... Whatever it is, God please keep him safe in your arms”.

Gomes’s youngest daughter, Michelle Leigh, 23, thanked everyone on behalf of the family for their prayers and well wishes on her Facebook wall.

“Hello everybody. Thank you so much for your warm wishes and prayers. My family and I are praying very hard and just hoping for the best. Thanks again,” she said.

The Malay Mail


Lawyer Who Survived Bombing And High-Speed Crashes Was Supposed To Board MH370

SEPANG: Lawyer Datuk David Gurupatham was unhappy when he had to change his flight to China over the weekend but it would be a decision he will never regret.

The managing director and partner at law firm David Gurupatham and Koay was supposed to be on board Flight MH370 but was forced to take a later flight.

“The initial plan was to board Flight MH370 but due to the lack of service, we decided to switch travel agents and could not reconfirm that same flight. We were angry that we had to board the later flight MH360,” he told The Malay Mail at KL International Airport where he was waiting to board the later flight.

Gurupatham was joined by his friend Daniel Lai, 46, who was also supposed to board the same plane.

Considering what had happened to MH370 after it took off on Saturday morning, he said: “I guess it was providence.”

Looking back on his other experiences, the lawyer has plenty to be thankful for. With all the close shaves he has had, he is definitely a “cat with nine lives”.

The 46-year-old avid car enthusiast survived two high-speed crashes involving his Porsche and Ferrari.

In 2009, he survived an emergency landing in Taiwan when Typhoon Marakot hit.

And in 2012, he and Lai escaped the explosion at Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel in Haadyai, southern Thailand, which killed five people and injured more than 300.

“We were stuck in traffic just five minutes away from Lee Gardens when the explosion happened,” he recalled.

“We saw huge clouds of smoke on the streets and people were running in the opposite direction.”

On his flight to Taiwan, Gurupatham said that the plane had swung so ferociously and he thought his time had come.

“Thankfully the pilot was competent.” he said.

“My time is not up. That’s one of the reasons I try to enjoy life as much as I can now and I am humbled by life. I pray for the passengers and families involved in the MH370 disaster. My heart goes out to them.”

The Malay Mail


Phone Call That Broke Our Hearts, Say Families Of MH370 Crew

PETALING JAYA: It was the phone call that the family in Ipoh had always worried about but on Saturday morning, it finally came through.

Goh Sock Lay, 45, who is married to Choi Loong Choo, 47, was the chief stewardess on Flight MH370 and at 8am, that dreaded call was made to her in-laws’ house to inform them her plane was missing.

“We had always feared about this moment but we never talked about it. We are all very sad,” said Goh’s sister-in-law, Choi Chew Heong.

Chew Heong said that whenever Sock Lay was on duty, she would leave her daughter, Wei Ling, 16, at her house where Sock Lay’s father-in-law, Choi Tat Sang, 75, will help to take care of her.

The family had tried to keep the news from Wei Ling until 2pm that day since the information had not yet been confirmed.

“Wei Ling cried when she heard the news,” said Chew Heong.

“We had always feared about this moment but we never talked about it. We are all very sad.”

Another crew member of MH370, flight attendant Mohamad Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan, is expecting his second child in May.

Flight attendant Mohamad Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan is expecting his second child in May. — Picture by The Malay Mail
He and his wife, Intan Maizura Outhman, who is also a flight attendant, have a three-year-old daughter.

Hazrin’s uncle, Mustapha Kamarudin, said Hazrin was a man of few words but was always cheerful and close to his sisters.

“He has six sisters and he was very close to them,” he told The Malay Mail.

Mustapha an executive sub editor with The Malay Mail said Hazrin, from Subang Jaya, usually flew on the European and Australian routes but had to replace a colleague on MH370.

“He was supposed to be back on Sunday and fly off to Paris but he had to replace someone for that sector (China),” Mustapha said.

“What we can do is pray and hope for the safety of everyone on board that flight.”


The Malay Mail


For previous days' stories on the topic, go to our archive here:

[NEWS ARCHIVE 8/3 - 9/3] MISSING BOEING 777: MAS KL-Beijing Flight MH370