(Corrects typo in first paragraph)
BEIJING, March 10 China urged Malaysia to step
up the search for a Malaysia Airlines jetliner that went missing
with 239 people on board, about two-thirds of them Chinese, and
said it has sent security agents to help with an investigation
into the misuse of passports.
Questions have mounted over possible security lapses and
whether a bomb or attempted hijacking could have brought down
the Beijing-bound plane, after Interpol confirmed at least two
passengers used stolen passports and said it was checking
whether others aboard used false identity documents.
As dozens of ships and aircraft from seven countries scoured
the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam, Chinese Foreign
Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said it was too early to know what
may have caused the plane to vanish but that family of the
passengers deserved an explanation as soon as possible.
"This incident happened more than two days ago, and we hope
that the Malaysians can fully understand the urgency of China,
especially of the family members, and can step up the speed of
the investigation and increase efforts on search and rescue,"
Qin told reporters at a daily news briefing.
China's Public Security Ministry had sent a team to Malaysia
to look into the use of the two stolen passports.
"We cannot confirm at present who it was who misused these
two passports," he said, adding the incident "should certainly
attract our greatest vigilance".
As they were Italian and Austrian passports, they would not
have needed a visa for a stay in Beijing that did not exceed 72
hours, Qin said.
He would not speculate on whether foul play was behind the
Flight MH370 vanished from radar screens in the early hours
of Saturday, about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur,
after climbing to a cruising altitude of 35,000 ft (10,670
No distress signal was sent, which experts said suggested a
sudden catastrophic failure or explosion. But Malaysia's air
force chief said radar tracking showed it may have turned back
from its scheduled route before it disappeared.
About two-thirds of the 227 passengers and 12 crew now
presumed to have died aboard the plane were Chinese. The airline
said other nationalities included 38 Malaysians, seven
Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and
The passenger manifest issued by the airline included the
names of two Europeans - Austrian Christian Kozel and Italian
Luigi Maraldi - who were not on the plane. Their passports had
been stolen in Thailand during the past two years.
A friend of one passenger, speaking to reporters after a
meeting with China's civil aviation authority and government
officials in Beijing, said passengers' families were growing
"The family members are really not happy. They feel like
they have waited far too long," the man, surnamed Zhou, said.
"The main thing they are interested in is whether there is
anyone left alive or not."
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Natalie Thomas and Megha
Rajagopalan, Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)