The family of Muktesh Mukherjee, a passenger on board the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, are praying that disaster has not struck twice.
The 42-year-old’s grandfather, Mohan Kumaramangalam, a former Indian government minister, was killed in a plane crash on the outskirts of New Delhi in 1973.
“Miracles do happen. We pray it will happen this time and Muktesh will come back to us,” his uncle Manoj Mukherjee told AFP in the Indian city of Kolkata. Muktesh, an Indian-born Canadian who works for US firm XCoal in Beijing, was heading home on flight MH370 with his Chinese wife Xiaomo Bai.
According to the Daily Mail, Mukherjee’s mother Uma, the daughter of Kumaramangalam, left her home in Dubai for Beijing on Monday after hearing about the Malaysia Airlines flight.
Just days ago, she had posted photos on Facebook of an idyllic coastal resort in Vietnam, where the couple were holidaying. Other recent photos show their two small sons laughing as they played in the snow in Beijing.
Desperate for news
The Mukherjees are among dozens of families around the world desperate for news of the plane that vanished with 239 people aboard early Saturday, an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese capital.
On Monday, the head of international police agency Interpol said he did not believe the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane at the weekend was a terrorist incident. “The more information we get, the more we are inclined to conclude it is not a terrorist incident,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said.
He also said two Iranian passport holders had swapped their passports in Kuala Lumpur and used stolen Italian and Austrian passports to board the now missing Malaysian airliner. Malaysian authorities said one of the two people who boarded the plane with stolen passports was an Iranian who had no links to terror groups.
Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19, got on board using an Austrian passport and aimed to migrate to Germany, Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
There was no distress signal or radio contact indicating a problem and, in the absence of any wreckage or flight data, police have been left trawling through passenger and crew lists for potential leads.
Malaysia’s military believes it tracked the missing plane by radar over the Strait of Malacca, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country’s east coast. The Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest shipping channels, runs along Malaysia’s west coast.
The airline said on Saturday that the flight last had contact off the east coast Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.
“It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,” the military official, who has been briefed on investigations, said.
The so-far fruitless search for the missing plane entered its fourth day. The massive search has drawn in navies, military aircraft, coastguard and civilian vessels from 10 nations, but failed to turn up any trace of the Boeing 777-200ER.
“Until now, with all of our efforts, there is very little hope for any good news about this plane,” said the head of Vietnam’s search and rescue effort, Pham Quy Tieu.
The search was widened to a larger swathe of the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, around where the plane lost radio contact and vanished from radar screens.
Police in Thailand, where the passports were stolen and the tickets used by the two men carrying them were booked, said on Tuesday they did not think they were linked to the disappearance of the plane.
“We haven’t ruled it out, but the weight of evidence we’re getting swings against the idea that these men are or were involved in terrorism,” Supachai Puikaewcome, chief of police in the Thai resort city of Pattaya, said.
The US extensively reviewed imagery taken by spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but saw none, a US government source said.
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