Last updated Wednesday, November 26, 2014 08:33pm

A member of the military personnel looks out of a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C130 transport plane during a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane over the South China Sea March 11, 2014. — Reuters picA member of the military personnel looks out of a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C130 transport plane during a search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane over the South China Sea March 11, 2014. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — Air patrols are resuming for a fifth day in the hunt for Flight 370 as searchers in planes and ships prowl waters on both sides of Peninsular Malaysia after failing to find debris along the missing jet’s route.

Malaysia widened its scrutiny yesterday to include the Malacca Strait, across the country from the intended course of the Beijing-bound Boeing Co. 777-200 over the Gulf of Thailand. Hours later, the Associated Press reported that Malaysia’s military had radar data showing the plane reached the strait.

The lack of wreckage kept alive all the theories to the plane’s disappearance, from an accident to the possibilities of a hijacking or sabotage being investigated by Malaysian police. Richard Bloom, director of terrorism and security studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said the plane’s position when it vanished March 8 may be in doubt.

“When flying over water, in my opinion there is no such thing as 100 per cent accurate technology of any kind,” Bloom said in an interview.

“Not all of that information may have been getting back. It could have been distorted by occurrences still to be determined.”

Dozens of ships and planes from at least nine countries are helping in the search, which has riveted international attention on the mystery and worn on families of the 239 passengers and crew.

No Link

Two Iranian men who boarded the missing jet using stolen passports probably had no link to any terror group, Malaysia and Interpol said yesterday, damping speculation that the forged documents signaled an effort to attack the Malaysian Airline System Bhd. plane after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is still combing through the passenger manifest and scouring the background of the crew for signs of personal or psychological issues, Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in Kuala Lumpur. Photos and video of bags and cargo are being reviewed “piece by piece,” he said.

The US Central Intelligence Agency also said terrorism can’t be excluded, with CIA director John Brennan telling an audience in Washington, “I wouldn’t rule it out, not at all.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the CIA, later emphasized the idea that a terror attack wasn’t necessarily a focus in looking at Flight 370.

In the Gallery


  • International school students light candles to pray for passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, March 10, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A relative of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 puts his palms together as he prays for his family member at the Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 10, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A sign filled with well wishes to the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 reads ‘Have Hope’ at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Deputy commander of Vietnam Air Force Do Minh Tuan looks at a map on a TV screen during a news conference about their mission to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at Phu Quoc Airport on Phu Quoc Island March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A US Navy SH-60R Seahawk helicopter takes off from the destroyer USS Pinckney in the Gulf of Thailand, to assist in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this March 9, 2014 handout picture. — Reuters pic

  • Family members of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are seen in a car outside the hotel they are staying at, in Putrajaya March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A family member of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cry inside a hotel they are staying at in Putrajaya March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 questions an aid worker (centre left) from Malaysia at restaurant in a hotel in Beijing March 11, 2014. — AFP pic

  • Family members of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Beijing arrive at Cyberview Lodge Hotel, the hotel they are staying at, in Putrajaya March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Family members of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Beijing arrive at Cyberview Lodge Hotel, the hotel they are staying at, in Putrajaya March 11, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Family members of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Beijing arrive at Cyberview Lodge Hotel, the hotel they are staying at, in Putrajaya March 11, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • A reflection of military officer Duong Van Lanh is seen from instrument panels as he works onboard a Vietnamese air force AN-26 during a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 off Tho Chu islands March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Malaysians write and hang their wishes for the passengers of missing MH370 on a card before hanging it on the ‘Wall of Hope’ located at the entrance of Pavilion shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur March 11, 2014. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

  • Malaysians write and hang their wishes for the passengers of missing MH370 on a card before hanging it on the ‘Wall of Hope’ located at the entrance of Pavilion shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur March 11, 2014. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

  • Malaysians write and hang their wishes for the passengers of missing MH370 on a card before hanging it on the ‘Wall of Hope’ located at the entrance of Pavilion shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur March 11, 2014. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

  • Malaysians write and hang their wishes for the passengers of missing MH370 on a card before hanging it on the ‘Wall of Hope’ located at the entrance of Pavilion shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur March 11, 2014. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

  • Malaysians write and hang their wishes for the passengers of missing MH370 on a card before hanging it on the ‘Wall of Hope’ located at the entrace of Pavilion shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur March 11, 2014. — Picture by Mohd Yusof Mat Isa

  • Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (centre) addresses a news conference on the two passengers who had travelled onboard the missing MH370 plane on stolen passports in KLIA, on March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A policewoman holds up a photo of one of the two men whom they believe were travelling on board the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 on stolen passports after a news conference in Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A combination photo shows two men whom police said were travelling on stolen passports onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane, taken before their departure at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in this March 11, 2014 handout courtesy of the Malaysian Police. — Reuters pic

  • Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble (second right) speaks during a news conference at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A Vietnamese officer stands next to a TV screen showing a flight route during a news conference about their mission to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at Phu Quoc Airport in Phu Quoc Island, March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Deputy commander of Vietnam Air Force Do Minh Tuan (centre) gives a press conference at the search and rescue centre at Phu Quoc airport in Vietnam, on March 11, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • Deputy commander of Vietnam Air Force Do Minh Tuan points to a map of the search area at the search and rescue centre at Phu Quoc airport in Vietnam, on March 11, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • The search and rescue centre is based at Phu Quoc airport in Vietnam. Photo taken on March 11, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • A Vietnamese helicopter taxies at Phu Quoc Airport before being utilised in the mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Phu Quoc Island, March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A helicopter lands after coming back from a search for the missing MH370 aircraft at Phu Quoc airport, on March 11, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • Reporters doing an interview next to one of the planes that has just returned from a search for the missing MH370 aircraft, at Phu Quoc airport, on March 11, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • A helicopter takes off from Jinggangshan warship to search the waters suspected to be the site of the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in this March 11, 2014 photo courtesy of China News Service. — Reuters pic

  • A search boat carrying rescue workers is set down from Mianyang warship on the waters suspected to be the site of the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in this March 10, 2014 photo provided by China News Service. — Reuters pic

  • Family members of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vote to set a deadline for the company to answer their requests, including providing solatium without additional conditions, at a hotel in Beijing, March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A journalist kisses Wan Tom Wan Chik, the mother of 33-year-old Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 passenger Mohd Sofuan Razak, after an interview at the hotel where relatives of the passengers are staying in Putrajaya March 10, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman holds a sign of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 she made and brought to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 11, 2014. — Reuters pic

No Nexus

“While we do not have enough information to comment on the causes of this incident, we do not currently see any nexus to terrorist activity,” Michael Birmingham, a spokesman, said in a statement. “Working with appropriate authorities, we will update our assessment of the causes of the incident when we have more information.”

Interpol Secretary General Ron Noble said the organization, which coordinates law enforcement across borders, said it also was more inclined “to conclude that it was not a terrorist incident.”

The two users of stolen passports were identified by Interpol and Malaysia as Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, and the younger one as Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19.

AP’s account of radar data showing the jet at the Malacca Strait, to the northwest of Malaysia’s capital, is at odds with official announcements that Flight 370 nearing Vietnamese airspace when controllers lost all contact.

AP cited a local newspaper report quoting a Malaysian air force general and an unidentified military official whom the news agency said had been briefed on the investigation.

Plane’s Route

Flight 370’s planned route carried it over the Gulf of Thailand, in a northerly direction from Kuala Lumpur, and would have taken it on into China. From its last known position in the Gulf of Thailand, reaching the Malacca Strait would have required a reversal of course executed without detection by ground-based radar.

The communications blackout shrouding the plane after it fell out of touch included the transponder, a beacon that transmits a signal heightening an aircraft’s visibility on radar.

With current technology, it’s unusual for an aircraft to vanish without a distress call. When they do disappear suddenly, it’s typically because of an explosion. Yet that would create widely scattered debris, and search teams haven’t been able to recover any remnants. That the plane was a Boeing 777, one of the most reliable jets in the air, only adds to the puzzle.

Plane Turnaround?

The aircraft, which disappeared without providing any distress signal, may have made an “air turn-back,” according to Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. That means the plane may have deviated from its planned route, Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said. The pilots never signaled trauma or danger before losing radio contact between Malaysia and Vietnam.

The last known position of MH370 before it disappeared off the radar was 065515 North (longitude) and 1033443 East (latitude). Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board have also started investigating, Ignatius Ong, an executive at the airline company, said in Beijing.

Flight 370 departed Kuala Lumpur at about 12:41 a.m. local time March 8 and was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Security screening was performed as usual, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. said.

While it’s rare for investigators not to find aircraft wreckage for days, it has happened. The longest period in modern aviation history between an airliner disappearance and initial findings of debris was seven years ago, when Adam Air Flight 574 disappeared off the coast of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi.

The Boeing 737-400, operated by PT Adam Skyconnection Airlines, lost contact with air traffic control Jan. 1, 2007.

Only 10 days later was any wreckage found. Not until August did Phoenix International Inc, a US-based marine salvage company, retrieve the flight data. — Bloomberg