Two suspects on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 who used stolen passports had no record of entering Malaysia legally, officials say.
Malaysia’s Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said Monday that the identity of one of the two suspects has been confirmed.
“He is not a Malaysian, but I cannot divulge which country he is from yet,” he said.
Two passengers managed to board the ill-fated aircraft using passports reported stolen in Thailand in recent years, booking their tickets at the same time. The passports belonged to Italian and Austrian residents.
Rescue crews are continuing to search for the jetliner, which departed from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing with 239 people on board. The plane lost contact with ground controllers Saturday between Malaysia and Vietnam.
Dozens of aircraft and ships have contributed to the search, including crews from Vietnam, China, Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, Thailand, Australia and the Philippines, Malaysia Civil Aviation Chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said at a Monday press conference.
Malaysia has led coordination efforts in the search for the missing plane. The country’s Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said Malaysia has nothing to hide – and denied allegations that China is unhappy with the investigation so far. Hishammuddin said China is sending a delegation to Malaysia to assist in identifying the passengers who held fake passports. Representatives are also helping with intelligence and relatives of the missing passengers.
During a Monday press briefing, a reporter asked Hussein about reports that a media personality received an open letter from the Leader of Chinese Martyr Brigade claiming responsibility for the incident. When asked about the letter, a Malaysian official said, "Yes, there is sound ground to say it is true, but again, we have said from the beginning that we are not taking anything for granted."
Authorities have covered over 50 nautical miles from the location where the aircraft was last spotted, including both Malaysian and Vietnamese waters.
The search has been expanded to the Straits of Malacca on the other side of the Malaysian peninsula in order to discount the possibility that the aircraft turned back to Malaysia airspace. The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet is using a P-3C Orion marine surveillance aircraft to search in the northern section of the Strait of Malacca today, according to the group’s Facebook page.
Any small clue surfacing in the ocean has revealed desperation for hope. Authorities have been unsuccessful in finding debris connected to the plane. An orange object spotted this morning -- originally thought to be a life raft -- had nothing to do with the plane wreckage, Vietnam’s National Committee for Search and Rescue told ABC News. The item turned out to be an orange circular side cover of an industrial cable reel. Reports of a different suspicious floating object emerged Sunday, but that object was later ruled out as being connected to the missing jet by Vietnam and Malaysian authorities.
Additionally, oil slick samples found about 100 nautical miles from Malaysia's east coast of Kelantan, just south of the point of last contact, turned out to have no connection to the missing plane after analysis by Malaysian authorities.
At this point, officials remained perplexed by the plane’s disappearance. All causes for the disappearance are being investigated, including hijacking, Abdul Rahman said.
“We are looking at every angle. We are looking at every aspect of what could have happened,” he said.