March 10, 2014 | 1:28am
Investigators suspect a vanished Malaysian airliner may have been blown out of the sky — just like the jumbo jet that rained deadly wreckage onto Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
As Vietnam reported the possible sighting of an aircraft door from the missing plane, a senior official involved in the probe of its disappearance said the evidence so far “appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet,” Reuters reported.
Asked if that suggested a bomb destroyed the Boeing 777, the source said there was no evidence yet of foul play, but noted the closest parallels to the plane’s disappearance early Saturday over the South China Sea were the 1980s bombings of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie and Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland.
Although the source added that Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, could have broken apart due to mechanical failure, Malaysian officials have not ruled out a hijacking.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said authorities have surveillance video of the two mystery passengers who boarded the plane using stolen passports, adding that “local and international” intelligence agencies were working to identify them.
Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the unidentified passengers appeared to be Asians, and blasted the border officials who let them through while carrying passports from Austria and Italy.
“Can’t these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian [passport holders] but with Asian faces,” Hamidi fumed.
Five booked passengers failed to show up for the flight, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Other troubling details emerged when a telephone operator on a China-based hot line for KLM airlines confirmed Sunday that the passengers traveling with the stolen passports had booked one-way tickets on the same KLM flight from Beijing to Amsterdam on Saturday.
The operator told the Associated Press that they had booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines, but she had no information on where they bought them.
Interpol — which called the use of the stolen passports a “great concern” — said a check of all documents presented by passengers on the ill-fated flight also revealed additional “suspect passports.”
An Interpol spokeswoman couldn’t say how many other passports were being investigated, or what country or countries issued them.
Hussein said Malaysia was seeking the FBI’s help in checking the identities of two other passengers.
Malaysia’s air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said radar showed the plane — which carried 239 people — may have turned back toward Kuala Lumpur.
No distress signals from the crew were reported.
The Vietnamese navy said one of its aircraft spotted an object floating in the Gulf of Thailand that might be one of the plane’s doors, but it was too dark outside to be certain. The search resumed at daybreak.
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The difference being, it’s almost 3 days with no sight of debris. Bizarre unless they’re looking in the wrong place? It’s a big ocean!