Malaysia probes passenger backgrounds for clues on missing flight
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 01:59
Mar.11 - Malaysian officials say that one of the holders of a stolen passport on the missing Malaysian airliner was a young Iranian, not believed to have terrorist links. Sarah Toms reports.
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Taiwan joins the massive international search for a Malaysia Airlines jetliner.
For four days ships and aircraft have been scouring the waters off Malaysia and Vietnam for a trace of the missing aircraft with 239 people on board.
Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on Saturday for Beijing, vanishing from radar screens soon after takeoff.
With no clues to go on, investigators had focussed on two passengers who had stolen European passports.
Malaysia's chief of police said one of them was a young Iranian -- Pouria Nour Mohammad Merdad -- who appeared to be an illegal immigrant. Investigations are continuing to look into a second man using stolen documents.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) INSPECTOR GENERAL KHALID ABU BAKAR SAYING:
"We have been checking his background, we have also checked him with other police organization, 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."
Reports from Thailand suggest that the tickets were routed to Amsterdam via Beijing. They were bought through a Thai travel agent and an Iranian middleman.
As the search continues, the police chief says the investigation is looking at four areas: hijacking, sabotage, and psychological problems or personal problems with passengers or crew.
It's one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history. But Malaysian authorities are indicating that the evidence so far doesn't strongly point to an attack, and that mechanical or pilot problems could have led to a crash.
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