n18
NEWS|Current Affairs 
   |

Planes and ships from across Asia resumed the hunt on Sunday for a Malaysian jetliner missing with 239 people on board for more than 24 hours, while Malaysian aviation authorities investigated how two passengers were apparently able to get on the aircraft using stolen passports.There was still no confirmed sighting of wreckage from the Boeing 777 in the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam where it vanished from screens early Saturday morning en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The weather was fine, the plane was already cruising and the pilots had no time to send a distress signal unusual circumstance for a modern jetliner to crash.Li Jiaxiang, administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said some debris had been spotted, but it was unclear whether it came from the plane. Vietnamese authorities said they had seen nothing close to two large oil slicks they saw on Saturday, and said might be from the missing plane.Malaysia's civil aviation chief Azaharuddin Abdul Rahman said his country had expanded its area of operation to the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, on the other side of the country from where the plane disappeared. "This is standard procedure. If we can't find it here, we go to other places," he said.Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, wreckage can be scattered over many square kilometers (miles). If the plane enters the water before breaking up, there can be relatively little debris.Investigators will need access to the flight data recorders to determine what happened.Terrorism is always considered a possibility, but the sudden disappearance of Flight MH370 has given extra emphasis to speculation a bomb might have been on board. Other scenarios include some catastrophic failure of the engines or structure of the plane, extreme turbulence or even pilot suicide.On Saturday, foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight's manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand. It's unclear how common it is for people to get on flights with fake passports, but the news added to fears of terrorism.Azaharuddin said on Sunday that authorities were "aware of the situation and we are doing an investigation at the moment."Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record, as does the 777, which had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed last July in San Francisco, killing three passengers, all teenagers from China.Professor Jason Middleton, the head of the Sydney-based University of New South Wales' School of Aviation, said terrorism or some other form of foul play seemed a likely explanation."You're looking at some highly unexpected thing, and the only ones people can think of are basically foul play, being either a bomb or some immediate incapacitating of the pilots by someone doing the wrong thing and that might lead to an airplane going straight into the ocean," Middleton said on Sunday. "With two stolen passports (on board), you'd have to suspect that that's one of the likely options."Just nine percent of fatal accidents happen when a plane is at cruising altitude, according to a statistical summary of commercial jet accidents done by Boeing. Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said on Saturday there was no indication that the pilots had sent a distress signal.The plane was last inspected 10 days ago and found to be "in proper condition," Ignatius Ong, CEO of Malaysia Airlines subsidiary Firefly airlines, said at a news conference.Two-thirds of the jet's passengers were from China. The rest were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.Asked whether terrorism was suspected, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said authorities were "looking at all possibilities, but it is too early to make any conclusive remarks."Greg Barton, a professor of international politics at Australia's Monash University and a terrorism expert, said if the disaster was the result of terrorism, there is no obvious suspect. If it was terrorism, Barton expected China would be quick to blame separatists from the ethnic Uighur minority, as authorities did recently when 29 people were killed in knife attacks at a train station in the southern city of Kunming."If a group like that is behind it, then suddenly they've got a capacity that we didn't know they had before, they've executed it very well that's very scary," Barton said. "It's safe to start with the assumption that that's not very likely, but possible."AP

US airdrops arms to Kurds in Syria's Kobani to help fight against ISIS

from firstpost

US airdrops arms to Kurds in Syria's Kobani to help fight against ISIS

Washington: The US military said on Sunday it had airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish forces defending the Syrian city of Kobani against Islamic State militants.The airdrops...


Nepal avalanche: Rescue operations on trekking route to be concluded

from firstpost

Nepal avalanche: Rescue operations on trekking route to be concluded

Katmandu: Nepal was wrapping up rescue operations in its northern mountains Monday, saying all the hikers believed to have been stranded on a trekking route by a series of deadly blizzards are now saf...

In US, fast-growing clinics are ill-equipped to detect Ebola

from firstpost

In US, fast-growing clinics are ill-equipped to detect Ebola

The deadly virus' arrival in the US has put the spotlight on weak spots in American hospitals, but those facilities are not the only ones who have suddenly found themselves on the front lines against ...

Ebola battle top on the minds of EU ministers meeting at Luxembourg

from firstpost

Ebola battle top on the minds of EU ministers meeting at Luxembourg

Luxembourg:European foreign ministers gatherin Luxembourg today to try and formalise a joint EU responseto combat the Ebola virus amid diplomatic warnings the crisishas reached a "tipping point&q...

'External forces' involved in protests, says Hong Kong leader

from firstpost

'External forces' involved in protests, says Hong Kong leader

Hong Kong: Hong Kong's leader has claimed that "external forces" are participating in student-led pro-democracy protests that have occupied parts of this financial capital for more than thre...

South Korea warns North against 'reckless provocation'

from firstpost

South Korea warns North against 'reckless provocation'

Seoul: South Korea warned North Korea today against further "reckless" provocations following a series of minor border skirmishes that have heightened military tensions ahead of planned high...

Pak troops targets forward posts in Jammu, violate ceasefire again

from firstpost

Pak troops targets forward posts in Jammu, violate ceasefire again

Jammu: In yet another ceasefire violation, Pakistani Rangers today resorted to small arms firing on forward Border Outposts (BoPs) along the international border in Jammu district."Pakistani Rang...