The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 9, 2014

Vietnam says it may have found missing jet's door

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Vietnamese authorities searching waters for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner spotted an object Sunday that they suspected was one of the plane's doors, as international intelligence agencies joined the investigation into two passengers who boarded the aircraft with stolen passports.

More than a day and half after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board, no confirmed debris from the plane had been found, and the final minutes before it went missing remained a mystery. The plane lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday morning en route to Beijing.

Searchers in a low-flying plane spotted what appeared to be a door from the missing jet, the deputy chief of staff of Vietnam's army, Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, was quoted as saying by the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper. It was found in waters about 60 miles (90 kilometers) south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday.

"From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane," Tuan said. Two ships from the maritime police were heading to the site.

The missing plane apparently fell from the sky at cruising altitude in fine weather, and the pilots were either unable or had no time to send a distress signal — unusual circumstances under which a modern jetliner operated by a professional airline would crash.

Authorities were checking on the identities of two passengers who boarded the plane with stolen passports. On Saturday, the 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.

"I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV," Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. "We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board."

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