VOA News – Investigators in Malaysia are skeptical the Malaysian airliner that disappeared Saturday was the target of an attack, according to U.S. and European government sources close to the probe, Reuters reported.
Neither the Malaysian agency leading the investigation nor spy agencies in the United States and Europe have ruled out the possibility that the aircraft was intentionally downed.
However, Malaysian authorities have indicated mechanical or piloting problems could be reasons for the apparent crash, the U.S. sources said.
A U.S. source said one reason Malaysian authorities are leaning away from the act of terror theory is because electronic evidence indicates the jetliner may have made a turn back towards Kuala Lumpur before it disappeared.
The search for flight MH370 is in its third day and the chief Malaysian investigator called its disappearance an “unprecedented mystery”.
The plane vanished from radar Saturday morning about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the search area will be significantly expanded Tuesday after days of looking with no sign of the missing plane.
Dozens of ships and planes from several countries have been searching within a 92 kilometer radius from the point where the plane disappeared over the South China Sea.
Interpol confirmed at least two passengers on the flight used stolen passports and authorities are checking to see whether others aboard used false identity documents.
Azharuddin said the two men who used stolen passports to board the jetliner were not of Asian appearance. Airport CCTV footage showed they completed all security procedures, he said.
A senior source involved in preliminary investigations in Malaysia said the failure to find any debris indicated the plane may have broken up mid-flight, which could disperse wreckage over a very wide area.
A U.S. government source said the United States has reviewed imagery taken by American spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but saw none.
China urged Malaysia to step up the search for the missing plane and has sent security agents to help with the investigation into the misuse of passports. More than 150 Chinese nationals were on the flight. China has sent four search-and-rescue vessels and two warships to help in the mission.
In all, eight countries joined the search for the plane early Saturday, but so far no positive sightings of the jetliner have been made. Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation said the eight nations have a combined 40 ships and 34 aircraft involved in the hunt.