Investigators chase ‘every angle’ in missing jet

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A family member of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane wipes her tears at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Monday, March 10, 2014. Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspected was one of the doors of the missing Boeing 777 on Sunday, while questions emerged about how two passengers managed to board the ill-fated aircraft using stolen passports. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

A family member of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane wipes her tears at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Monday, March 10, 2014. Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspected was one of the doors of the missing Boeing 777 on Sunday, while questions emerged about how two passengers managed to board the ill-fated aircraft using stolen passports. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, right, speaks as Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain listens during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Monday, March 10, 2014. Dozens of ships and aircraft have failed to find any piece of the missing Boeing 777 jet that vanished more than two days ago above waters south of Vietnam as investigators pursued “every angle†to explain its disappearance, including hijacking, Malaysia’s civil aviation chief said Monday. (AP Photo)

A family member of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane speaks to journalists at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Monday, March 10, 2014. Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspected was one of the doors of the missing Boeing 777 on Sunday, while questions emerged about how two passengers managed to board the ill-fated aircraft using stolen passports. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

This photo provided by Laurent Errera taken Dec. 26, 2011, shows the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER that disappeared from air traffic control screens Saturday, taking off from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact with air traffic control early Saturday morning, March 8, 2014 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn’t located the jetliner several hours later. (AP Photo/Laurent Errera)

A Chinese relative of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane looks out from a hotel room for relatives or friends of passengers aboard the missing airplane in Beijing, China Monday, March 10, 2014. Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspected was one of the doors of the missing Boeing 777 on Sunday, while questions emerged about how two passengers managed to board the ill-fated aircraft using stolen passports. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Rescue helicopters and ships searching for a Malaysia Airlines jet rushed Monday 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.

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.

Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, told a news conference that investigators were looking at “every angle” to explain the plane’s disappearance early Saturday, including hijacking.

“There are many experts around the world who have contributed their knowhow 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 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, or pilot error or even suicide.

Selamat Omar, a Malaysian whose 29-year-old son Mohamad Khairul Amri Selamat was a passenger on the flight, expected a call from him at the 6.30 a.m. 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.

On Sunday afternoon, a Vietnamese plane spotted a rectangular object that was thought to be one of the missing plane’s doors, but ships working through the night could not locate it. Then on Monday, a Singaporean search plane spotted a yellow object some 140 kilometers (87 miles) southwest of Tho Chu island, but it turned out to be some sea trash.

Malaysian maritime officials found some oil slicks in the South China Sea and have sent a sample to a lab to see if it came from the plane.

As relatives of the 239 people on the flight grappled with fading hope, attention focused on how two passengers managed to board the aircraft using stolen passports. Interpol confirmed it knew about the stolen passports but said no authorities checked its vast databases on stolen documents before the jet departed.

Warning that “only a handful of countries” routinely make such checks, Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble chided authorities for “waiting for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates.”

There was no indication that the two men had anything to do with the tragedy, but the thefts of the passports added a twist to the plane’s mysterious disappearance, fueling speculation of foul play, terrorism or a hijacking gone wrong.

The two stolen passports, one belonging to Austrian Christian Kozel and the other to Luigi Maraldi of Italy, were entered into Interpol’s database after they were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and last year, the police body said.

Electronic booking records show that one-way tickets with those

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