Stolen passports probed in Malaysian plane mystery

(WXYZ) - The search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane continues to grow but still there is no sign of the aircraft.  Breaking late Monday, news that an Iranian man purchased one-way tickets for two of the passengers on board -- those tickets were purchased for two men who were travelling with stolen passports.

Rescue teams expanded their search are for Malaysia Airlines flight 370.  Nearly three dozen aircraft and 40 ships from 10 countries scoured the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam on Monday.

The Boeing 777 vanished just before 1 am local time on Saturday with 239 passengers and crew on board.

“Our aim to find the aircraft will be intensified.  It’s very important that we have to find the aircraft,” said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the Civil Aviation Chief of Malaysia.

Malaysian authorities say military radar suggests the plane, which was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing may have been turning around before it suddenly disappeared.  The pilot did not call for help and the plane was flying at “cruising” altitude.

“That is a really, really safe place to be, which makes this mystery all that much deeper,” said Col. Stephen Ganyard (Ret.), and ABC News Consultant.

Adding to the mystery and fears of terrorism, two men using stolen passports from Italy and Austria were on board.  Authorities say the one-way tickets for the men using those passports were purchased by an Iranian man named Kazem Ali from a travel agency in Thailand. 
Aviation officials have reviewed security footage at the airport, and say those two passengers did not look Asian and suggested they may have ties to a stolen passport syndicate.

Meanwhile, news that the plane’s door had been spotted turned out to be a false alarm and the oil slick discovered in the South China Sea is not from a plane.

50 year old American IBM executive Philip Wood was on the flight. His mother and sons are still stunned.

“If you want to know how it feels to lose a son at the age of 50? It’s devastating.  But I know in my heart that Philip’s with God,” said Sondra Wood.

“I’ll never really give up hope, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t accept that he may not come back,” said Chris Wood.

Wood’s long-time friend and former IBM co-worker Craig Dahl lives in Livonia.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve felt like I was being pummeled, punched in the stomach,” said Dahl.

Dahl says Wood had moved from Texas to China for work and recently took a new position in Malaysia.

“He was just a great guy to be around,” said Dahl.  “He was very quick witted, knew how to crack a joke, knew when to be serious.  I have nothing but good things to say about him.”


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