Nobody knows what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, other than air traffic controllers lost track of it not long after it left Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, on its way to Beijing.
The families and loved ones of the 239 passengers and crew aboard expected the worst as they awaited any significant development.
The biggest clue so far is traces of oil that a Vietnamese plane spotted while flying over the search area. The oil slicks are between 6 and 9 miles long and are suspected to be from the missing plane, the Vietnam government’s official news agency reported. The traces of oil were found about 90 miles south of Tho Chu Island, the report said.
In the meantime, the search area is being expanded and efforts to locate the plane will continue overnight, said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of civil aviation in Malaysia.
The area of focus has been in the South China Sea, where the Malaysian airspace and Vietnamese airspace meet.
“We have no idea where this aircraft is right now,” Malaysia Airlines Vice President of Operations Control Fuad Sharuji said on CNN’s “AC360.”
Bits and pieces of information have begun to form, but it remains unclear how they fit into the bigger picture, if at all.
For instance, after the airline released a manifest, Austria denied that one of its citizens was onboard the flight as the list stated. The Austrian citizen was safe and sound, and his passport had been stolen two years ago, Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Weiss told CNN.
Similarly, Italy’s foreign ministry confirmed that no Italians were onboard MH370, even though an Italian was listed on the manifest. Malaysian officials said they were aware of reports that the Italian’s passport was also stolen, but had not confirmed it.
A U.S. intelligence official said authorities are aware of reporting about lost or stolen passports used by passengers on the missing flight.
“No nexus to terrorism yet,” the official said, “although that’s by no means definitive. We’re still tracking.”
Malaysian authorities reiterated during a news conference that they are not ruling anything out regarding the missing aircraft.
China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia were conducting search and rescue operations south of Tho Chu island in the South China Sea, reported Xinhua, China’s official news agency. Ships, helicopters and airplanes are being utilized.
Officials appeared resigned to accepting the worst outcome.
“I’d just like to say our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said during a news conference.