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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: MH370 passengers using stolen European passports have Asian features

Published on Mar 10, 2014 11:58 AM
 

PUTRAJAYA - The two passengers who used stolen European passports to board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were of Asian appearance, said Malaysia's Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, criticising border officials who let them through.

"I am still perturbed. Can't these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian but with Asian faces," he was quoted by state news agency Bernama as saying late on Sunday.

An internal investigation on the Immigration Department has commenced following reports that two passengers were using stolen passports to board the missing flight.

Mr Zahid said the detailed investigation would give special attention to the department's Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) branch.

Passengers queue up at the Malaysia Airlines ticketing booth at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 9, 2014.  -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

"We will conduct an internal probe, particularly on the officers, who were on duty at the KLIA Immigration counter during flight MH370.

"I am still puzzled how come (immigration officers) cannot think, an Italian and Austrian (passengers) but with Asian facial features," he told reporters.

Mr Zahid said the investigation was conducted by a special team, led by Immigration Department Director-General Aloyah Mamat, Bernama reported.

Currently no conclusion could be made pertaining to the issue as the investigation had only commenced once the actual passport holders claimed that their passports were stolen, he said.

Mr Zahid said it was difficult to determine the authenticity of an international passport that was being brought by a passport holder because not all countries used the biometric system and bar code as in Malaysia.

Civil Aviation Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman in a media conference in Sepang on Sunday said that only two passengers had false passports to board flight MH370, which was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Both passengers involved had used the Italian and Austrian passports.

Flight MH370, with 227 passengers including two infants and 12 crew members, was reported missing from the radar at 1.30 am on Saturday, about an hour after departing from KLIA.

The plane carried passengers from 14 countries, including 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

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