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Malaysia launches terror probe into missing plane, four French on board

An upset relative of a passenger of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 approaches an official at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia
An upset relative of a passenger of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 approaches an official at a hotel in Putrajaya, Malaysia Reuters/Samsul Said

Malaysia has launched a terror probe into the disappearance of the airliner that vanished with 239 people on board on Saturday. Four French citizens were on board, rather than three as earlier reported. They have all been identified.

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The four French citizens on the missing Boeing 777-200 were three children studying at the Lycée français in Beijing and the mother of two of them, according to French junior minister responsible for French expatriates Hélène Conway-Mouret.

The third teenager, who had joint French and Chinese nationality, was travelling with the family.

Malaysian authorities are looking into four names on the flight manifest, Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Sunday, without giving any more details.

Civil aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said only two passengers used stolen passports - one reportedly belonging to Austrian Christian Kozel, the other to Italian Luigi Maraldi - and officials are examining CCTV footage of them.

"At the same time our own intelligence has been activated, and of course, the counter-terrorism units ... from all the relevant countries have been informed," Hishammuddin said, declining also to rule out the possibility that the plane may have been hijacked.

Investigators are looking into the possbility did a U-turn, although the airline says that could not have happened.

"There is a distinct possibility the airplane did a turn-back, deviating from the course," said Malaysia's air force chief, General Rodzali Daud, citing radar data.

But Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the Boeing 777's systems would have set off alarm bells.

The company has also revealed that the Boeing 777-200 suffered a broken wing tip in 2012 but say that it was fully repaired and cleared to fly.The four French citizens were three children studying at the Lycée français in Beijing and the mother of two of them, according to French junior minister responsible for French expatriates Hélène
Conway-Mouret.

The third teenager, who had joint French and Chinese nationality, was travelling with the family.

Malaysian authorities are looking into four names on the flight manifest, Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Sunday, without giving any more details.

Civil aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said only two passengers used stolen passports - one reportedly belonging to Austrian Christian Kozel, the other to Italian Luigi Maraldi - and officials are examining CCTV footage of them.

"At the same time our own intelligence has been activated, and of course, the counter-terrorism units ... from all the relevant countries have been informed," Hishammuddin said, declining also to rule out the possibility that the plane may have been hijacked.

Investigators are looking into the possbility did a U-turn, although the airline says that could not have happened.

"There is a distinct possibility the airplane did a turn-back, deviating from the course," said Malaysia's air force chief, General Rodzali Daud, citing radar data.

But Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the plane's systems would have set off alarm bells.

The company has also revealed that the Boeing 777-200 suffered a broken wing tip in 2012 but say that it was fully repaired and cleared to fly.

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