Search crews from China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia were joined
by the American Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer destroyer
in a search for any evidence of the airliner in the South China Sea. The
passengers included 154 citizens from China or Taiwan, 38 Malaysians,
seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three
Americans, among others.
It emerged Saturday that two of the names on the flight manifest matched stolen European passports.
Italian and Austrian officials confirmed the names of two passengers
were from passports reported stolen in Thailand. U.S. officials told NBC
News that they have not ruled out a terrorist attack as a possible cause for the plane’s disappearance.
The flight’s pilots were veterans
who together had logged more than 20,000 flying hours, reports CNN. The
plane was meant to touch down in Beijing at 6:30a.m. after a 2,300-mile
trip. But the flight suddenly lost contact mid-flight, and search teams
and experts have begun to lose hope passengers will be rescued.
“The aircraft had not been at altitude long and that strikes me
as very, very odd,” aviation expert Captain J.F. Joseph, who has 44
years flying of experience, told TIME on Saturday.
“It’s too early to say if there was a bomb or terrorist activity, but
it lost contact just as it began to level off at 35,000 ft. It would
give some indication that what occurred was catastrophic or somewhat