WASHINGTON - Preliminary surveillance data reviewed by the Pentagon suggests the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 did not explode over the South China Sea.
The New York Times, in its report, "Passport theft adds to mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines jet", said the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence used a system that "looks for flashes around the world".
"The Pentagon reviewed preliminary surveillance data from the area where the plane disappeared and saw no evidence of an explosion," the daily quoted a United States official as saying on condition of anonymity because the subject matter was classified.
It said a team of aviation experts, led by the US National Transportation Safety Board, was on its way to the area.
"If all aboard were killed, it would be the deadliest commercial airline accident since Nov 12, 2001, when an American Airlines Airbus crashed just after take-off from Kennedy Airport en route to the Dominican Republic," the report said.
It also said the discovery that two of the passengers were carrying stolen passports raised the "unsettling possibility of foul play".
It quoted a senior US intelligence official as saying law enforcement and intelligence agencies were investigating the issue of the stolen passports.
The US authorities, it reported, were scrutinising the flight manifest closely, with the official noting that forged travel documents were also used routinely by smugglers and illegal immigrants.
"At this time, we have not identified this as an act of terrorism. While the stolen passports are interesting, they don't necessarily say to us that this was a terrorism act," the daily said, quoting the official said.