World News

Search for Missing Malaysian Flight Intensifies, as do Questions

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, March 8, 2014.A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, March 8, 2014.
x
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, March 8, 2014.
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, March 8, 2014.
It has been more than a day and a half since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished on its way to Beijing, and the fate of the more than 200 people on board is still unknown.  A massive search and rescue is under way in waters off the coast of Malaysia and Vietnam where the plane presumably crashed. As the hours pass there are more questions than answers about what happened.

Malaysian authorities say an expansive and intensive search for the plane is under way with support from four other countries, including China and the United States. Authorities say some 40 ships and 22 planes are helping out.
 
Much of the focus so far has been on waters off Vietnam's southwestern coast, where a large oil slick has been spotted, but now Malaysian authorities say the search effort has extended to land and sea off the western Malaysian coast near Penang.
 
"What we have done is actually look into the recording on the radar that we have and we realized there is a possibility the aircraft did make a turnback," said Royal Malaysian Air Force chief Rodzali Daud.
 
Aviation safety experts say the possibility that the plane turned back at cruising altitude suggests that something had gone wrong and that it may have been trying to make an emergency landing.  

At a news conference Sunday afternoon, Malaysia Airlines told families to expect the worst while stressing that search and rescue efforts continue. The airline is making arrangements to take family members to Malaysia by Monday morning at the earliest.
 
Malaysia Airlines says a disaster recovery specialist from the United States will be assisting the carrier. It is also setting up command centers in Malaysia's Kota Bharu and Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh city.
 
The revelation that two of the passengers on board were using stolen passports, and questions about the identity of two others has even raised concerns that the flight's disappearance was the result of a terrorist act.
 
Authorities in Italy and Austria have confirmed that two passengers who were thought to have been on the flight were not - but both had their passports stolen in the past two years.
 
Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who is also the country's defense minister says he has spoken with international intelligence agencies about the four names.
 
"I am in touch with the international intelligence agencies and at the same time our own intelligence has been activated and of course the counter terrorism units CTIs and CTUs from all the relevant countries will be, have been informed, That's what I've been doing since yesterday," he said.
 
Hussein says terrorism is not the sole focus of the investigation at this point and adds that authorities are not ruling out any possibilities. Authorities say they are reviewing security footage in the airport of the two individuals who boarded the plane using stolen passports.
 
Analysts say that while Asian airport security is not as tight as it is in Europe or the United States, the possibility that as many as four passengers got on board using stolen documents will raise some difficult questions.
 
No group or organization has come forward to claim responsibility for the plane's disappearance.  Authorities in China will be watching the investigation closely.  
 
The plane was headed to Beijing at a time of already heightened security in the capital.  Last week, China's leaders began key annual political meetings in Beijing.
 
Airline safety experts say it is unusual for a plane to crash after reaching cruising altitude.  Daniel Tsang is the founder and chief analyst at Aspire Aviation.
 
"Most incidents or accidents take place during take off or landing, when it is the most dangerous part of the entire duration of the flight," said Tsang. "Because during take off and landing there are so many factors, and you can have runway overruns, etc."  
 
Tsang says that searches at sea for lost planes are tremendously difficult. Once the wreckage is found, however, the way the debris is dispersed will give clues as to what might have happened during the flight.  
 
"If the airplane hits the ocean in one piece, it remains intact, most likely the debris area would be very small and concentrated in a small diameter or circle," said Tsang. " But if you are talking about an inflight break up as some are speculating on the MH370 you'd be looking for miles and miles of diameter of debris field."
 
The Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was a Boeing 777-200, a plane air safety experts say has an almost spotless record. There were also no signs of bad weather during the flight. Authorities in Malaysia say they lost contact with the plane about one hour after its departure from Kuala Lumpur.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs