Stolen Passports on Disappeared Malaysia Plane Are 'No Terror Link'
The holders of stolen passports on a disappeared Malaysia Airlines flight were Iranians seeking asylum in Europe.
Malaysian officials revealed this as the search for the jetliner, which has been missing since Saturday, was expanded to the western coast of Malaysia.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, took off from the capital Kuala Lumpur, but mysteriously vanished from radar early on Saturday, somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam, while en route to Beijing.
Police reports cited by the BBC suggest that the 19-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad was probably migrating to Germany. If the plane had reached Beijing, he would have continued to an onward flight to Amsterdam, for which he had also purchased a ticket.
According to Malaysia's police chief inspector Gern Khalid Abu Bakar, the authorities were in contact with the young Iranian's mother, who was in Frankfurt, Germany, and had been expecting her son to arrive there.
The other man using stolen documents on board was Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, aged 29. After landing in Beijing, he would catch another connecting flight, as he was heading for Copenhagen, Denmark, according to reports by CNN.
Interpol declared on Monday that the documents used by the two men, who booked their tickets together, belonged to Austrian Christian Kozel and Italian Luigi Maraldi, who both reported that their passports had been stolen years ago in Thailand.
Experts describe the presence of the two men traveling on stolen passports as "a breach of security", but such events seem to be relatively common in the region, and the newly identified Iranian has shown no affiliation to terrorist groups.
Search operations for wreckage of the plane are still under way, with at least 40 ships and 34 aircraft looking for debris in the seas off Vietnam and Malaysia, where the flight went missing.
The incident off the South Asian coast is still puzzling Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese and US authorities, the latter also having sent teams for the operation. It seems the plane might have inexplicably turned back short before passing over Vietnam, but apparently has neither returned nor crashed.
Four options are being considered to explain the mystery: hijacking, sabotage, psychological problems or personal problems with passengers or crew. Neither has been ruled as an possible scenario.