Rescue helicopters and ships searching for a Malaysia Airlines jet yesterday rushed to investigate a yellow object that looked like a life raft. It turned out to be moss-covered trash floating in the ocean, once again dashing hopes after more than two days of fruitless search for the plane that disappeared en route to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Samples taken from an oil slick off Malaysia are not from a missing jet, based on results of a chemistry lab analysis, an official said yesterday.
Malaysian authorities had collected oil samples from a slick about 185km north off the country’s east coast state of Kelantan, just south of the point where air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane, and sent it for analysis in a laboratory in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
However, the results came back negative for jet fuel.
“The oil is not used for aircraft,” Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Faridah Shuib said, adding that it was a type used by ships.
With no confirmation that the Boeing 777 had crashed, hundreds of distraught relatives waited anxiously for any news.
Thai police and Interpol questioned the proprietors of a travel agency in the resort town of Pattaya that sold one-way tickets to two men now known to have been traveling on flight MH370 using stolen passports.
Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation Director Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told a news conference that investigators were looking at “every angle” to explain the plane’s disappearance early on Saturday, including hijacking.
“There are many experts around the world who have contributed their know-how and knowledge,” Azharuddin said. “As far as we are concerned, we are equally puzzled as well.”
The search operation has involved 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries covering a 50-nautical mile (93km) radius from the point the plane vanished from radar screens between Malaysia and Vietnam, he said.
Experts say possible causes of the apparent crash include an explosion, catastrophic engine failure, terrorist attack, extreme turbulence, pilot error or even suicide.
Selamat Omar, a Malaysian whose 29-year-old son, Mohammed Khairul Amri Selamat, was a passenger on the flight, expected a call from him at the 6:30am arrival time. Instead, he got a call from the airline to say the plane was missing.
“We accept God’s will. Whether he is found alive or dead, we surrender to Allah,” Selamat said.
There have been a few glimmers of hope, but so far no trace of the plane has been found.