Missing plane leaves families with phantom phone calls

Relatives of the 239 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 clutch at straws, as they say they were able to call phones of missing loved ones

Kuala Lumpur: The unprecedented mystery behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH 370 deepened yesterday when relatives claimed they were able to call the cellphones of their missing loved ones.

Fraught with worry: Relatives of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines plane wait for the latest news as investigators announced they are widening their search for the missing Boeing 777. Pics/AFP, Getty Images, PTI

Family of some of the 239 people on board the vanished Boeing 777 said that they were getting ring tones and could see them active online through a Chinese social networking service called QQ.

One man said that the QQ account of his brother-in-law showed him as online, but frustratingly for those waiting desperately for any news, messages sent have gone unanswered and the calls have not been picked up.

The sister of one of the passengers among the 239 people on board the vanished flight rang his phone live on TV.

“This morning, around 11:40 [am], I called my older brother’s number twice, and I got the ringing tone,” said Bian Liangwei, sister of one of the passengers.

“If I could get through, the police could locate the position, and there’s a chance he could still be alive.”

A man from Beijing also called his missing brother, and reported to the airlines that the phone connected three times.

Relatives are urging the authorities to search for the location of phones that rang using GPS.

However, at a press conference, MAS spokesman Ignatius Ong said one of the numbers that had been passed on to the airline’s command office in Kuala Lumpur failed to get through.

“I have called the number five times while the airline also called the number. We got no answering tone,” said Ong.

According to military, “It changed course after Kota Baru and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait.”

No terror links

A man travelling with a stolen passport on a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner was an Iranian teen trying to migrate to Germany, and is not believed to have any terrorist links, police said yesterday.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that investigators had determined one was a 19-year-old Iranian, Pouria Nourmohammadi Mehrdad. He said the man’s mother was waiting for him in Frankfurt.

Turning to crowdsourcing
A US-based satellite imaging company has launched its own search effort with a crowdsourcing campaign to locate the Boeing 777. DigitalGlobe, which operates commercial imaging satellites, is asking volunteers to log onto its website and comb through images in the hope of locating something of interest.

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