Updates: search and rescue
[07.00pm local time MYT, Sunday 9 March 2014] Minister Hishamuddin said that according to a military radar, there may have been a possibility that the missing flight MH370 made an "air turn back."
They are looking into all possible reasons for this around turn including the possibility of terrorism, he said. "Malaysia is working with foreign intelligence agencies including the FBI and counter-terrorism units on this."
At least two passengers - one Italian, the other Austrian had boarded the flight with stolen passports, Hishamuddin confirmed. The flight tickets for these two passengers were reportedly purchased consecutively using Thai currency. He also said that so far two other names in the manifest of flight MH370 are also under investigation.
According to CNN, Italy and Austria have said that none of their citizens were on board the plane. And officials say the Italian and Austrian, whose names were on the passenger manifest, both had their passports stolen in Thailand in recent years.
[08.46 am MYT, Monday 10 March 2014] The international search and rescue fleet of 40 ships and 34 aircraft from eight countries - including the US, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Australia - is widening its search zone to include the Straits of Malacca. At the time of writing, there has been no official confirmations of any signs of the missing flight MH370.
[11.49 am MYT, 10 March 2014] Local media reports that the Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has called for an internal proble on KLIA immigration officers to uncover why the Italian and Austrian passengers with stolen passports were able to board flight MH370.
Earlier, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency [MMEA] has sent samples of the oil slick in the South China sea (about 100 nautical miles from the Tok Bali Beach, Kelantan) to be analysed by the Chemistry Department in Petaling Jaya. The results are expected Monday afternoon.
In addition, Malaysia Airlines is offering "financial assistance over and above their basic needs" to all families of passengers on the flight.
Photo (filepic) - Civil Aviation Director-General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman
[12.00 pm MYT, Monday, 10 March 2014] During the official media conference, Civil Aviation Director-General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (pic), who is heading the search and rescue [SAR] operations, confirmed that the international search and rescue team has widened its search to the Strait of Malacca.
"The air search is being conducted from 7am to 7pm while the ships continue around the clock," Azharuddin said. "So far, there has been no sign of anything that can be connected to the missing aircraft, he said. There have been various reports in media - citing Vietnamese authorites: such as the inner part of the door of the aircraft. But that report is not verified officially by the Vietnamese authorities as of last night."
"The MMEA has sent samples of the oil slick to the labs," he said. "We will reveal the report when received. No reported signs so far are not verified. There are many theories in the media including expert opinions from around the world about what may have happened. We are equally puzzled. Our prime minister used the word 'perplexing.'"
"We need hard evidence, we need parts of the aircraft to determine what has happened," he added. "We have not secured any part of the aircraft to date. We are intensifying our search to include the possibility of an 'air turn back.' We are not discounting any possibilities. There is a lot of work that has to be done in this unprecedented mystery. Malaysia Airlines and experts around the world are helping us."
The priority is to find the aircraft," said Azharuddin. "The incident of the two passengers flying with stolen passports is being investigated including all footage. There is talk of a possible highjacking. This is not discounted. We are looking at every possibility and at all angles," he said. "We have to get concrete evidence, we have to find the aircraft."