Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Italian whose passport was stolen now in Patong, Thailand

The Italian whose stolen passport was used by a passenger on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is currently in Phuket, Thailand.

Website Phuketwan reported on Sunday that Mr Luigi Maraldi, 37, was traced by Phuket police to an apartment in Nanai Road in the tourist area of Patong.

Two European names - reported as Christian Kozel, an Austrian, and Luigi Maraldi of Italy - were listed on the passenger manifest of the missing plane, but neither man were on board, officials said.

Both had their passports stolen in Thailand.

The website reported Mr Maraldi as saying he arrived in Phuket on March 1 and was planning to leave on March 15.

The Italian said that on a holiday to Phuket in July last year, he lost his passport at a Patong motorcycle rental shop when he had left it as collateral for renting a vehicle.

The woman who ran the shop told Mr Maraldi that she had given his passport to an Italian man who "said Mr Maraldi was his husband", reported Phuketwan.

He lost his passport on July 22 last year and reported this to the police on July 25. He flew back to Italy using a temporary travel document on Aug 3.

"I really don't have much to add," he was reported as saying. "I am not an expat who lives on Phuket. I have come and gone as a tourist."

Mr Maraldi said he learned about the plane tragedy when his family called him.

The BBC reported that the men using the two stolen passports had bought tickets together and were flying on to Europe from Beijing, meaning they did not have to apply for a Chinese visa and undergo further checks.

Britain's Mirror reported on its website that the two tickets, booked through China Southern Airlines, were both due to start in Kuala Lumpur, fly to Beijing and then onward to Amsterdam. The Ialian passport's ticket continued to Copenhagen, the Austrian's to Frankfurt.

An employee at a travel agency in Pattaya, Thailand, told Reuters the two men had bought the tickets there.