Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Missing: Airline Says Search Expanded Beyond Flight Path; Xinhua Reports Offer Of 'Special Consolation Payment' While Cathay Pacific Crew Report Spotting Debris Off Flight Path

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A U.S. Navy SH-60R Seahawk helicopter takes off from the destroyer USS Pinckney in the Gulf of Thailand, to assist in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this March 9, 2014 handout picture. Reuters/USNavy Handout

Update as of 3:34 a.m. EST: One of the two men reported to have boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with stolen passports has been identified as a 19-year-old Iranian national believed to be seeking asylum in Germany, Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon, citing Malaysian authorities. The identification of one of the stolen passport holders weakens a theory that terrorism could be one of the causes for the disappearance of the plane, which went missing Saturday.

"We believe he is not likely to be a member of any terror group and we believe he was trying to migrate to Germany," Malaysia's national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said, according to media reports. The identity of the other man traveling on a stolen passport is not known yet.

 

The search for Flight MH370, which went missing on Saturday enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is feared to have crashed into the South China Sea, has expanded to cover areas beyond the plane's flight path, Malaysia Airline said in a statement released Tuesday morning.

"The search and rescue teams (SAR) have expanded the scope beyond the flight path to the West Peninsular of Malaysia at the Straits of Malacca. The authorities are looking at a possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang. All angles are being looked at. We are not ruling out any possibilities," the airline said in a statement, adding: "Apart from the search in the sea, search on land in between these areas is also conducted."

A report from China's state-run Xinhua news agency said that the airline would offer a "special consolation payment" of 31,000 yuan (about $5,000) to the family of every passengers on board the missing plane. The airline, in a statement, said that it has created a special task force to offer help and counseling to the family and loved ones of the missing passengers and also to the airline's crew.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post, or SCMP, reported, citing Hong Kong's civil aviation authorities, that the crew of a Cathay Pacific plane bound from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur had spotted some debris near Vung Tau, off the coast of southeast Vietnam, on Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. local time, adding that the location of the debris did not match Flight Mh370's stated flight path, which should have taken the plane over Ho Chi Minh City, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) away from the debris spotted by the Cathay Pacific crew.

So far, there have been other reports of search and rescue teams spotting debris and oil slick, which after analysis, have been found to be unrelated to Flight MH370.

According to the SCMP report, Taiwan's intelligence chief Tsai De-sheng had warned China of possible attacks against Beijing's airports and subway system, timed to match the ongoing National People's Congress, but added that in his opinion, the intelligence was not relevant to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

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