Missing Malaysia Plane: Photo of men who took Flight MH370 doctored? Fears of a cover-up as pictures show passengers with same set of legs
Fears of a cover-up over the fate of flight MH370 grew yesterday after claims that a photo of two passengers was tampered with.
Images of two men who boarded the Malaysian Airlines jet with stolen passports appear to show them having the same set of legs.
CCTV footage stills released by officials three days after the Boeing 777-200 vanished from the skies shows the pair with identical green trousers and brown shoes.
Their feet and shadows are also in the same position, while their faces, T-shirts and bags are different.
The photo last night fuelled conspiracy theories over the fate of the aircraft, which disappeared with 239 passengers and crew more than a fortnight ago.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘They both have the same legs, edited or coincidence? And you guys believe our gov is not hiding anything.’
Malaysian police admitted the image of one man had been placed on top of the other when they were photocopied.
But a spokesman said it was not ‘done with malice or to mislead’.
The men – thought to be Iranian asylum-seekers – have been named as Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 19, and 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza.
They travelled to Malaysia on Iranian passports before switching to stolen Austrian and Italian documents.
Last night France became the latest country to say it has spotted debris that could be part of the missing jet.
The objects were discovered on satellite images of the southern Indian Ocean, a direction the Boeing 777 may have taken after making a U-turn on its scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
It’s the third time sightings of possible wreckage have been announced and Malaysia has received the latest news with caution.
The French satellite image was taken 850 kilometres from the search site, although it was earlier thought to have been much closer to areas of the Indian Ocean where Australia and China provided satellite photographs of objects that could be debris from MH370.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss described the search operation as ‘clutching’ at information, as flight and sea crews embarked on their fifth day of sweeps in the target zone some 2,500km off the coast of Perth.
Images ‘mistakenly’ released by China last week were later withdrawn.
And search planes have so far failed to locate two objects that Australia said it had identified in the Indian Ocean, about 1,500 miles south east of Perth.
A US air-to-air refuelling tanker has been ordered to boost potential search times of aircraft in the Southern Indian Ocean, and Chinese airplanes will be flying out of Perth airport to maximise search capacity.
Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas told the MailOnline a US military KC-10 extender tanker – an aerial refuelling aircraft – would be joining the search fleet, in particular to assist the US Navy P8 Poseidon aircraft, which is out on mission today.
‘The United States is going to send a KC-10 tanker, which means the Poseidon will be able to stay out there virtually forever, instead of these two hour limits for actual search time,’ he said.
The two Russian made Ilyuchin IL-76 aircraft deployed by the Chinese government flew from Pearce airbase to Perth airport and off to the target area early Monday.
Mr Thomas said the Ilyuchins, which were used by Australian forces in Afghanistan to deliver supplies and ordnance, needed the longer Perth international runway for take-off once they were fully loaded with fuel for maximum flight capacity.
‘The IL-76s will use Perth airport as their take-off point for the length of this search,’ he said.
The Ilyuchin planes are also designed as airborne refueling craft, and have been used by China as emergency response planes, evacuating Chinese citizens out of Libya in 2011.
Meanwhile a team of Malaysian government officials faced anger during a six-hour briefing session with relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers on the jet.
Earlier today, France provided Malaysia with satellite images of objects adrift in the Indian ocean that it believes could be from the wreckage of the plane, which has been missing for more than two weeks.
It is the latest of such images that officials are hoping will help solve one of the world’s great aviation mysteries.
Meanwhile, it was claimed that police have seized the personal financial records of all 12 crew members of the flight MH370 – including bank statements, mortgage documents and credit card bills.
And an image of solid matter floating in the southern Indian Ocean was released, as seen from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for the flight.
Families of the victims, who have been attending meetings on the search’s progress, have become increasingly frustrated over the lack of information.
Air and sea searches since Thursday have not produced any results.
There have been no sightings of any wreckage since Flight 370 dropped off air traffic control screens on March 8 over the Gulf of Thailand with 239 people on board.
Planes and a ship are still looking for a pallet and other debris to determine whether the objects were from the missing jet.
The pallet was spotted by a search plane Saturday, but has not been closely examined. Wooden pallets are commonly used in shipping, but can also be used in cargo containers carried on planes.
Mike Barton, chief of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue coordination centre, told reporters in Canberra that the wooden pallet was spotted by a search aircraft yesterday.
He added that it was surrounded by several other objects, including what appeared to be strapping belts of different colours.
A New Zealand P3 Orion military plane was then sent to find it but failed, he said