Missing plane puzzle remains unsolved

Missing plane puzzle remains unsolved

MALAYSIA - The Klang Valley, comprising Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, is blanketed in haze, mainly caused by open peat fires. Even after shutting the windows and blocking the gaps below and around the door, the choking smog permeates the room. The high level of airborne pollution has seen local schools closed all week. But the smoky air blurring the outline of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers seems particularly appropriate at the moment. The ongoing search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is still shrouded in a mystery far thicker than the clouds of pollution that hang over the Malaysian capital.

In addition to the lack of progress, the frequent changes of information and miscommunication have made the fog of uncertainty even thicker.

Since the Beijing-bound plane, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing on March 8, the Malaysian authorities' statements concerning the jet's direction and a reported turnaround have been inconsistent, and the reported time of the plane's last contact has also changed repeatedly.

Video stills of two Iranian men traveling on stolen passports came under fire after observers pointed out that the bottom halves of the men's bodies were identical. When challenged, an official from the Malaysian immigration department admitted that the still had been altered - with the lower parts having been copied and pasted - but he said the authorities didn't have a problem with this "as long as the upper parts and the faces are clear".

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said at a media briefing on Friday that based on radar evidence, one aircraft - the identity of which could not be confirmed - had turned back. Meanwhile, possible locations of the missing plane now stretch from the southern border of Kazakhstan to northern Thailand, and to an area near Jakarta in Indonesia to the Indian Ocean, all points far from the initial search area in the South China Sea.

"We followed every credible lead. Sometimes these leads have led nowhere," Razak said.

"We followed every credible lead. Sometimes these leads have led nowhere," Prime Minister Najib Razak said.
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