World News

No Terror Links for Men With Stolen Passports on Missing Malaysia Jet

The head of Interpol says the disappearance of a Malaysian passenger jet does not appear to be related to terrorism.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble says new information about two Iranian men who used stolen passports to board the plane makes terrorism a less likely explanation for the jet's disappearance.

The international police agency released photos showing the two boarding the plane at the same time. They are identified as 19-year-old Pouri Nourmohammadi and 29-year-old Delavar Seyedmohammaderza.

Malaysian Police Inspector General Khalid Tan Sri says the 19-year-old was likely trying to migrate to Germany.

"We have been checking his background. We have also checked him with other police organizations on his profile, and we believe that he is not likely to be a member of any terrorist group. And we believe that he is trying to migrate to Germany."

The other man's identity is still under investigation. But the development reduces the likelihood they were working together as part of a terror plot.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared from radar without any distress calls Saturday, about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur.

The search for the missing jetliner expanded Tuesday, as relatives of the 239 people on board prepared to deal with expected bad news.

The search area spans a radius of 185 kilometers from where the jet disappeared, including areas on land.

Dozens of ships and planes involved in the search have failed to turn up any trace of the plane.

Malaysian officials have been exploring scenarios of what may have brought down the Beijing-bound jet, including an explosion, hijackers, pilot error or mechanical failure.

Aviation expert and former commercial airlines and military pilot Jim Tilmon tells VOA's Daybreak Asia locating debris is key to explaining the cause of any crash.

"If the airplane broke up at that altitude, or anything close to that altitude, it would spread debris over a very wide area ... On the other hand, if we have a relatively confined debris field, it may lend one to understand that this airplane was in pretty good shape in terms of being whole as it went into the water."

The speculation has done little to comfort those waiting for information about their relatives. Ms. Wang, whose mother is on the plane, said Tuesday she is still hopeful.

"As a family member who lost contact with their families, the most concerned issue is to find out their own family members, find out where they are and find out the result. If there is no progress on search and rescue effort, we hope to increase efforts on investigating the possibility of hijacking."

About two-thirds of the people on board were Chinese nationals, with the remainder from other Asian countries, Europe and North America.

At airports in the region, many travellers remain nervous. Hoo Wee Sin was waiting to board a plane at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport where flight MH307 took off.

"Frankly speaking, I feel worried about (flying). I feel troubled, too, because it only happened about three or four days ago, so it is not that peaceful actually."

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