Malaysian Air Passengers Used Stolen Austrian, Italian Passports

Two passengers on the Malaysian Airline System Bhd. jet that disappeared with 239 people on board used stolen Austrian and Italian passports to board the aircraft, the European countries’ foreign ministries said.

Austrian officials contacted a man from the nation listed on the passenger manifest and found him to be “well,” Martin Weiss, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry, said by telephone today. Luigi Maraldi, an Italian national also shown on the manifest, didn’t travel on the plane, spokesman Aldo Amati at the country’s foreign ministry said by phone.

The airline said Flight MH370 vanished an hour into a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, the U.S. and Singapore are assisting Malaysia to find the Boeing Co. 777-200 aircraft, which carried 227 passengers and 12 crew, Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

The Austrian’s passport was stolen two years ago during a trip to Asia, Weiss said. The man is now in Austria, he said. Maraldi’s passport also was stolen, according to Amati.

“We have to verify the report and there is too much of speculation,” Malaysian Airline Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said of Maraldi’s passport.

The plane disappeared from Malaysian radar at 1:30 a.m. and the department informed the carrier at 2:40 a.m., according to Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation. The last communication with the aircraft was “normal,” he said.

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