KUALA LUMPUR, Monday
Samples taken from an oil slick off Malaysia are not from a missing jet based on results of a chemistry lab analysis, an official said today.
Flight MH370 went missing over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early Saturday.
No confirmed evidence of the plane’s fate has yet been found despite a massive search, leaving authorities stumped and anguished family members demanding answers.
Malaysian authorities had collected oil samples from a slick about 185 kilometres north off the country’s east coast state of Kelantan and sent it for analysis in a laboratory in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
But the results came back negative for jet fuel.
“The oil is not used for aircraft,” Maritime Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Faridah Shuib told AFP, adding it was a type used by ships.
The slick, from which the samples were collected, was just south of the point where air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane, which carried 239 people.
The two-kilometre long slick was the largest of several in the area.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s role as a hub for criminal networks using false documents is in the spotlight after two unknown passengers on vanished flight MH370 used passports stolen in the kingdom, sparking fears of a terror attack.
Two European names were on the passenger list for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, which disappeared in the early hours of Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
But neither Christian Kozel, an Austrian, nor Luigi Maraldi from Italy, ever boarded the plane — instead two mystery passengers used their passports, which had been stolen from the men in separate incidents in Thailand.
The revelation has triggered a terror probe by Malaysian authorities, who are working with other intelligence agencies including the FBI.
“Thailand has been used by some international terrorist groups as a zone of operation, to raise funds or to plan attacks,” said Rommel Banlaoi, an analyst on terrorism in South-East Asia.
In 2010, two Pakistanis and a Thai woman were arrested in Thailand on suspicion of making false passports for Al-Qaeda linked groups, as part of an international operation linked to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai and the Madrid train bombings in 2004.
But Banlaoi stressed that the false passports used on the Malaysia flight “could also be linked to other criminal activities, like illegal immigration”.
“Thailand is a destination for international crime organisations who use it to secure travel documents, financial documents,” a Thai intelligence source told AFP.