In a strange twist relating to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing in the small hours of Saturday morning somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam en route to Beijing, two passengers believed to have been on the plane were found alive – both had their passports stolen in Thailand during the last two years, and were positively identified by officials from their respective governments, as reported here and here. Unconfirmed reports in Russian indicate a third name on the manifest also indicated use of a stolen passport.

The two passengers in question, Italian Luigi Maraldi and Austrian Christian Kozel, whose names appear on the official manifest issued by Malaysia Airlines for the missing flight, both identified themselves to government officials – Maraldi in Thailand, from where he called his father to say he was alright, and Kozel was found living in Austria after a check in Malaysia. Kozel's passport was reported stolen in Thailand in 2012.

This raises some rather serious questions: if Maraldi and Kozel did not board the plane themselves, who did, with their stolen passports? Did they have visas for China, or would they have indicated they were using the 72-hour visa-free option? Also, China Southern Airlines, which is a codeshare partner for Malaysia Airlines, sold seven seats on the flight, including the seats occupied by the passengers registered as Kozel and Maraldi, according to People's Daily via Sina.

After midnight Beijing time Sunday, the US indicated it was looking at the possibility of terrorism, given the confirmed use of two stolen passports on board the flight.

As of this morning, news reports have oil slicks possibly related to the aircraft being investigated in the area off the coast of Vietnam, but still no definite sign of the aircraft has been spotted.

An interesting in-depth and evolving discussion of the incident among mostly airline industry insiders is going on at the bbs of the Professional Pilots Rumor Network, where many posters with professional in-flight experience concur that the lack of an emergency transmission from the MH370 seems to indicate a sudden, catastrophic event.

In light of other recent events in China that made people think twice about the safety of travel, this might have a similar effect. We're still hoping the plane will be found with all aboard safe, but regardless of the outcome, there will be some questions to answer in the aftermath of MH370.

Chinese media is awash with the list of PRC passport holders on the flight (a full manifest can be found at Malaysia Airlines here). Here are the non-PRC passport holders listed as on the flight, organized by travel document:

Australia
Rodney Burrows, 59
Mary Burrows, 54
Naijun Gu, 31
Robert Lawton, 58
Catherine Lawton, 54
Yuan Li, 33

Austria
Christian Kozel, 30 (reported not on flight / passport stolen)

Canada
Xiaomo Bai, 37
Muktesh Mustafa, 42

France
Laurence Wattrelos, 53
Hadrien Wattrelos, 17
Ambre Wattrelos, 14
Yan Zhao, 18

India
Chetana Kolekar, 55
Vinod Kolekar, 53
Swanand Kolekar, 23
Chandrika Sharma, 51
Kranti Shirsath, 44

Indonesia
Firman Siregar, 25
Ferryindra Suadaya, 42
Herryindra Suadaya, 35
Lom Sugianto, 47
Indrasuria Tanurisam, 57
Chynthyatio Vinny, 47
Willy Surijanto Wang, 53

Italy
Luigi Maraldi, 37 (reported not on flight / passport stolen)

Malaysia
Mohdhassim Bibynali, 62
Huanpeen Chan, 46
Wei Chen, 43
Karmooi Chew, 31
Mei Chng, 33
Anne Daisy, 56
Huajin Guan, 34
Noorida Hashim, 57
Puiheng Hui, 66
Jee Jinghang, 41
Tiongmeng Koh, 40
Sew Chum Lee, 55
Kahkin Lee, 32
Pow Chua Lim, 43
Norfadzillah Matrahim, 39
Ibriham Mohamadsofuan, 33
Selamat Mohdkhairulamri, 29
Zamani Muhammadrazahan, 24
Suhaili Mustafa, 31
May Lim Ng, 37
Hamid Norliakmar, 33
Subramanian Puspanathan, 34
Safuan Ramlan, 32
Kengwei Sim, 53
Chong Ling Tan, 48
Ah Meng Tan, 46
Sioh Tan, 42
Teik Hin Tan, 32
Wei Chew Tan, 19
Lin Keong Tee, 50
Kim Lun Teoh, 36
Soon Lee Tong, 31
Hock Khoon Wan, 42
Sai Sang Wong, 53
Chee Meng Yap, 39
Maria Mohamed Yunusramli, 52
Dina Mohamed Yunusramli, 30
Muzi Yusop, 50

Netherlands
Dahlia Surti, 50

New Zealand
Ximin Wang, 50
Paul Weeks, 39

Russia
Nikolai Brodskii, 43

Taiwan
Hsuling Chuang, 45

Ukraine
Oleg Chustrak, 45
Sergii Deineka, 45

United States
Nicole Meng, 4
Philip Wood, 51
Yan Zhang, 2
 

Photo: Pascal Maillot/NBC News


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