Iranian passengers with stolen passport on missing plane. But they were not terrorists
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The passengers who used stolen passports on flight MH370 that disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing , were Iranians. The person who booked , canceled and then re-booked the tickets for two people carrying an Italian and an Austrian passport was also Iranian.
The Malaysian police report that one of the passengers was a 19 year-old Iranian , but do not believe that the young man had links to terrorism . It is thought that he wanted to seek asylum in Germany.
This is confirmed by the fact that the man who booked flights, known in Pattaya (Thailand ) as "Mr. Ali", asked for cheap tickets for Europe. Hence the choice of the flight via Beijing . From the Chinese capital , the two passengers travelling on the stolen passports were to fly to Amsterdam and then on two separate flights to Copenhagen and Frankfurt.
At first , the discovery of stolen passport holders led many to think that the plane was targeted by a terrorist attack. But so far, Malaysian police have ruled this out: document theft is common in Southeast Asia which are subsequently used for illegal immigration or criminal activities such as the drug trade.
Meanwhile , to help search operations for the Malaysia Airlines plane, the Chinese Ministry of Defense has decided to relocate 10 satellites usually used for communications, weather information to help sweep the South China Sea.
The search operations now involve 20 aircraft and 40 ships from seven different countries including Vietnam , Malaysia , China, the United States and the Philippines.
There is still no sign of the plane three days after its disappearance with 239 passengers on board. Several reports of finds of debris or oil slicks in the sea - en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing - have proved false.
Both Beijing and Malaysia have decided to expand the search radius, up to 100 nautical miles around the point where the jet disappeared.