Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Oil slicks in South China Sea ‘not from missing jet’, officials say

More than two days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, the final minutes before its disappearance remain a mystery

The oil slicks found off the coast of Malaysia during the search for Flight MH370 were not caused by the missing jet, authorities have said.

Laboratory analysis on the oil, which was first spotted on Saturday night, found that it had nothing to do with the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared almost three days ago, Malaysian officials have confirmed.

Earlier the crew from a Vietnamese jet reported seeing a “ possible life raft” floating in the sea around 250 miles off the country’s southern coast, only for search and rescue helicopters to later find it was no more than “a moss-covered cap of cable reel”.

Speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning, the director-general of Malaysia's Civil Aviation body, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said officials were still struggling with an “ unprecedented aviation mystery”.

“Unfortunately we have not found anything that appears to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft,” he said. “As far as we are concerned, we have to find the aircraft, we have to find a piece of the aircraft if possible.”

As authorities dismiss each potential clue to the whereabouts of the missing Boeing 777, attention has increasingly turned to the identities of the two passengers confirmed to be travelling on stolen European passports.

This afternoon Malaysian officials said both the men had “ non-Asian” features - contradicting previous suggestions otherwise from the country's interior minister.

Asked to explain what he meant, Mr Rahman said they looked like the Italian footballer Mario Balotelli, but refused to elaborate further.

Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that one has now been identified, but that he could not reveal his identity beyond confirming that he was not Malaysian.

Mr Rahman also said that five passengers who checked in for the flight but who did not board, had had their luggage removed and checked. Nothing untoward was found.

Almost three days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing, the final minutes before its disappearance remain a mystery. The plane lost contact with ground controllers somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Read more: Investigators focus on CCTV for clues
There are some slightly less nefarious reasons for flying on a stolen passport
Search for missing Boeing 777 reveals two oil slicks in the Gulf of Thailand

Malaysian military officials said on Sunday that the plane, a Boeing 777-200ER, may have turned back from its scheduled route shortly before vanishing from radar screens.

Mr Rahman said officials had set no time-frame for the search and referred to the search for Air France flight 447 which went missing in 2009 on route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing all 228 aboard.

It took investigators two years to locate the black box recorders and three years to piece together what happened. A report eventually blamed a combination of technical failure and pilot error.

"The experts have said this is a very big area for us to cover," Mr Rahman said of the area currently being searched. "We all have to work together to find this aircraft... It will take as long as it takes to find the aircraft."

Family members comfort Chrisman Siregar (left) and his wife Herlina Panjaitan, the parents of Firman Siregar, one of the Indonesian citizens thought to have boarded the Malaysia Airlines jetliner Family members comfort Chrisman Siregar (left) and his wife Herlina Panjaitan, the parents of Firman Siregar, one of the Indonesian citizens thought to have boarded the Malaysia Airlines jetliner A total of 34 aircraft and 40 ships from Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and the United States have been deployed to the area where ground controllers lost contact with the plane, the maritime border between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board, two-thirds were Chinese, while the rest were from elsewhere in Asia, Europe and North America. Five Indians were among the passengers.

The thefts of the two passports - one belonging to Austrian Christian Kozel and the other to Luigi Maraldi of Italy - were entered into Interpol's database after they were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and last year, the police body said.

But no authorities in Malaysia or elsewhere checked the passports against the database of 40 million stolen or lost travel documents before the Malaysia Airlines plane took off.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines said it was working to provide relatives of those on board the flight visas and flights to enable them to travel to Kuala Lumpur, if they wished.

"Malaysia Airlines' primary focus at this point in time is to care for the families," it said in a statement. "This means providing them with timely information, travel facilities, accommodation, meals, medical and emotional support. The costs for these are all borne by Malaysia Airlines."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project