Malaysia Airlines flight 370 Missing, Mystery Deepens

A Malaysian Muslim woman cries as she offers a special prayer for passengers aboard a missing plane, at a mosque in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Sunday, March 9. Military radar indicates that the missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back before vanishing, Malaysia’s air force chief said Sunday as authorities were investigating up to four passengers with suspicious identifications. (AP Photo)
Probe into missing plane looks at possible mid-air disintegration

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 (Reuters): Officials investigating the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner with 239 people on board are narrowing the focus of their inquiries on the possibility that it disintegrated in mid-flight, a senior source said on Sunday.

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished after climbing to a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing in the early hours of Saturday, but search teams have still not been able to make any confirmed discovery of wreckage in seas beneath the plane’s flight path almost 48 hours after it took off.

“The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” said the source, who is involved in the investigations in Malaysia. If the plane had plunged intact from such a height, breaking up only on impact with the water, search teams would have expected to find a fairly concentrated pattern of debris, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the investigation.

The source was speaking shortly before Vietnamese authorities said a military plane had spotted at sea an object suspected to be part of the missing airliner. 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 issues. Malaysian authorities have said they are focused on finding the plane and have declined to comment when asked about the investigations.
‘Plane may have turned back’
Kuala Lumpur, March 9 (AFP): Malaysia on Sunday said a missing airliner carrying 239 people may have inexplicably turned back as authorities launched a terror probe into the plane’s sudden disappearance, investigating suspect passengers who boarded with stolen passports.

The United States sent the FBI to investigate after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished from radar early Saturday somewhere at sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, but stressed there was no evidence of terrorism yet. Indications that the plane may have deviated from its route only compounded the anxiety of relatives, many of them Chinese, desperate for news of their loved ones. “There is a distinct possibility the airplane did a turn-back, deviating from the course,” said Malaysia’s air force chief, General Rodzali Daud, citing radar data.

But Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the Boeing 777’s systems would have set off alarm bells. “When there is an air turn-back the pilot would be unable to proceed as planned,” he said, adding authorities were “quite puzzled” over the situation. Malaysian authorities have expanded their search for wreckage to the country’s west coast after initially concentrating to the east in the South China Sea.