Home' Greymouth Star : March 10th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Monday, March 10, 2014
A crying relative (woman in white) of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines ight MH370 is comforted as she talks on
her cellphone at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
777 mystery deepens
A team of archaeologists in Argentina
has pinpointed the location of the 1765
shipwreck of a Spanish merchant ship
o the southern coast.
It is the oldest wrecked ship of 12 that
were identi ed along 200km o the
windswept Tierra del Fuego coast.
e ship, La Purisima Concepcion,
went down January 10, 1765 o the
Mitre peninsula --- about 3500km south
of Buenos Aires --- as it headed for the
turbulent Cape Horn after sailing from
Cadiz and stopping in Montevideo.
"It is not a galleon loaded with gold and
pearls like in the movies; it's just a supply
ship. But we have chosen not to disclose
the exact location so as not to encourage
anyone to go souvenir hunting," Martin
Vazquez, the lead archaeologist on the
team which found the ship, said.
He previously led Ushuaia's End of the
World Museum. It sponsored several
expeditions since 2009 searching for
these lost vessels, an an area where
extreme winds and snow are the order of
the day most of the year.
Many of the 193 people on board the
ship that wrecked survived and were able
to build small boats with which they
ultimately headed to Buenos Aires.
Kuala Lumpur/Phu Quoc Island
O cials investigating the
disappearance of a Malaysia
Airlines airliner with 239 people
on board suspect it may have
disintegrated in mid- ight, a senior
source said today, as Vietnam
reported a possible sighting of
wreckage from the plane.
International police agency
Interpol con rmed that two
passengers on the ight had
used stolen Austrian and Italian
passports, raising suspicions of foul
An Interpol spokeswoman said
a check of all documents used
to board the plane had revealed
more "suspect passports" that were
being further investigated. She was
unable to say how many, or from
which country or countries.
Malaysia's State news agency
quoted Home Minister Ahmad
Zahid Hamidi as saying the
passengers using the stolen
European passports were of Asian
appearance, and criticising border
o cials who let them through.
"I am still perturbed. Can't these
immigration o cials think? Italian
and Austrian (passport holders) but
with Asian faces," he was quoted as
saying late last night.
Nearly 48 hours after the last
contact with Flight MH370,
mystery still surrounded its fate.
Malaysia's air force chief said the
Beijing-bound airliner may have
turned back from its scheduled
route before it vanished from radar
" e fact that we are unable to
nd any debris so far appears to
indicate that the aircraft is likely
to have disintegrated at around
35,000 feet," a source involved in
the investigations in Malaysia told
If the plane had plunged intact
from close to its cruising altitude,
breaking up only on impact with
the water, search teams would
have expected to nd a fairly
concentrated pattern of debris, the
source said, speaking on condition
of anonymity because he was
not authorised to discuss the
Asked about the possibility of
an explosion, such as a bomb, the
source said there was no evidence
yet of foul play and that the aircraft
could have broken up due to
Dozens of military and civilian
vessels have been criss-crossing
waters beneath the aircraft's ight
path, but have found no con rmed
trace of the lost plane, although oil
slicks have been reported in the
sea south of Vietnam and east of
Early today, the Civil Aviation
Authority of Vietnam said on its
website that a Vietnamese navy
plane had spotted an object in the
sea suspected of being part of the
plane, but that it was too dark to be
certain. Search planes were set to
return to investigate the suspected
debris at daybreak.
" e outcome so far is there is no
sign of the aircraft," Malaysian civil
aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul
"On the possibility of hijack, we
are not ruling out any possibility,"
he told reporters.
e Malaysian authorities said
they were widening the search to
cover vast swathes of sea around
Malaysia and o Vietnam, and
were investigating at least two
passengers who were using false
e passenger manifest issued
by the airline included the names
of two Europeans --- Austrian
Christian Kozel and Italian Luigi
Maraldi --- who, according to their
foreign ministries, were not on the
plane. Both had apparently had
their passports stolen in ailand
during the past two years.
e BBC reported that the men
falsely using their passports had
purchased tickets together and
were due to y on to Europe from
Beijing, meaning they did not have
to apply for a Chinese visa and
undergo further checks.
An employee at a travel agency in
Pattaya, in ailand, told Reuters
the two had purchased the tickets
Interpol maintains a vast database
of more than 40 million lost and
stolen travel documents, and has
long urged member countries to
make greater use of it to stop people
crossing borders on false papers.
e global police organisation
con rmed that Kozel's and
Maraldi's passports had both been
added to the database after their
theft in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
But it said no country had consulted
the database to check either of them
since the time they were stolen.
"While it is too soon to speculate
about any connection between
these stolen passports and the
missing plane, it is clearly of great
concern that any passenger was
able to board an international
ight using a stolen passport listed
in Interpol's databases," Interpol
secretary-general Ronald Noble
said in a statement.
In a sign that Malaysia's airport
controls may have been breached,
Prime Minister Najib Razak said
security procedures were being
Malaysian Transport Minister
authorities were also checking the
identities of two other passengers.
He said help was also being sought
from the United States Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
However, an attack was only one of
the possibilities being investigated.
"We are looking at all possibilities,"
he said. "We cannot jump the gun.
Our focus now is to nd the plane."
e 11-year-old Boeing 777-
200ER, powered by Rolls-Royce
Trent engines, took o at 12.40am
on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur
International Airport, with 227
passengers and 12 crew on board.
It last had contact with air tra c
controllers 120 nautical miles o
the east coast of the Malaysian
town of Kota Bharu. Flight tracking
website ightaware.com showed
it ew north-east after take-o ,
climbed to 35,000ft (10,670m) and
was still climbing when it vanished
from tracking records.
ere were no reports of bad
"What we have done is actually
look into the recording on the
radar that we have and we realised
there is a possibility the aircraft did
make a turnback," Royal Malaysian
Air Force chief Rodzali Daud told
reporters at a news conference.
e search was being extended
to the west coast of the Malay
peninsula, in addition to a broad
expanse of the sea between
Malaysia and Vietnam, he said.
Vietnamese naval boats sent from
the holiday island of Phu Quoc
patrolled stretches of the Gulf of
ailand, scouring the area where
an oil slick was spotted by patrol
aircraft just before nightfall on
Besides the Vietnamese vessels,
countries have deployed 34 aircraft
and 40 ships in the search. China
and the US have sent ships to help,
and Washington has also deployed
a maritime sur veillance plane.
US o cials from Boeing, the
National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) and the Federal
Aviation Administration were
on the way to Asia to help in
investigations, NTSB said in a
statement. Boeing said it was
monitoring the situation but had
no further comment.
e airline said 14 nationalities
were among the passengers,
including at least 152 Chinese, 38
Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six
Australians, ve Indians, four French
and three Americans. --- Reuters
Voters in El Salvador have cast ballots in
a presidential run-o expected to crown
the current vice president, a former guerilla
commander, as the country's new leader.
Pre-election polls showed Salvador Sanchez
Ceren from the Farabundo Marti National
Liberation Front (FMLN) comfortably
ahead of right-wing candidate Norman
Quijano, 67, mayor of the capital city San
Sanchez Ceren, 69, is El Salvador's second
in command to outgoing President Mauricio
A former teacher and ex-education minister,
Sanchez Ceren was one of ve top guerilla
commanders during El Salvador's bitter
1979-92 civil war, which pitted the FMLN
against the United States-backed conservative
e FMLN fell just shy of an outright
victory in a rst round vote last month, but
polls now give Sanchez Ceren an advantage
of between 10 and 18 points.
Quijano, meanwhile, is a law and order
candidate who campaigns against the
country's high crime rate and the notorious
"mara" street gangs behind much of El
Salvador's drug dealing and extortion.
Conservatives were in power for two
decades until 2009, when Salvadorans elected
their rst leftist government, making Funes,
a former journalist from the FMLN, their
president. --- AFP
Former guerrilla favourite in El Salvador
Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the presidential candidate for the Farabundo Marti Front for
National Liberation (FMLN), shows a ballot paper to the media before casting his vote in a
presidential election run-o in San Salvador.
e space rock that smashed
into Earth 65 million years ago
and wiped out the dinosaurs
unleashed acid rain that turned
the ocean surface into a witches'
Delving into the riddle of Earth's
last mass extinction, Japanese
scientists said the impact instantly
vaporised sulphur-rich rock,
creating a vast cloud of sulphur
trioxide (SO3) gas.
is mixed with water vapour to
create sulphuric acid rain, which
would have fallen to the planet's
surface within days, acidifying
the surface levels of the ocean and
killing life therein.
ose species that were able to
survive beneath this lethal layer
eventually inherited the seas,
according to the study which did
not delve into the e ects on land
acid rains and intense ocean
acidi cation by SO3-rich impact
vapours resulted in severe damage
to the global ecosystem and were
probably responsible for the
extinction of many species," the
e great smash is known as the
It occurred when an object,
believed to be an asteroid some
10km wide, whacked into the
Yucatan peninsula in modern-day
It left a crater 180km wide,
ignited a restorm and kicked up
a storm of dust that was driven
around the world on high winds,
according to the mainstream
Between 60% and 80% of
species on Earth were wiped out,
according to fossil surveys.
Large species su ered especially:
dinosaurs which had roamed the
land for some 165 million years,
were replaced as the terrestrial
kings by mammals.
Much speculation has been
devoted to precisely how the mass
A common theory is that a
"nuclear winter" occurred --- the
dust pall prevented sunlight
reaching the surface, causing
vegetation to shrivel and die,
and dooming the species that
depended on them.
Another, ercely-debated, idea
adds acid rain to the mix.
Critics say the collision was
far more likely to have released
sulphur dioxide (SO2) than SO3,
the culprit chemical in acid rain.
ey argue also it would have
lingered in the stratosphere rather
than fallen back to Earth.
Seeking answers, a team led by
Sohsuke Ohno of the Planetary
Exploration Research Centre in
Chiba set up a special lab rig to
replicate --- on a tiny scale --- what
happened that fateful day.
ey used a laser beam to
vaporise a strand of plastic, which
released a high-speed blast of
plasma and caused a tiny piece
of foil, made of the heavy metal
tantalum, to smash into a sample
e heavy foil fragment
replicated on a miniscule scale
the mass of the asteroid, while
the rock was of a similar make-up
as the surface where the asteroid
e team caused collisions
ranging from 13 to 25km per
second and analysed the gas that
e research, reported in the
journal Nature Geoscience,
showed that SO3 was by far the
dominant molecule. --- AFP
Dinosaur-killing meteor turned oceans acidic
About a dozen nuns held by rebels
in Syria for more than three months
have been released and are on their
way to Damascus via Lebanon, a
security source and church o cials
said on Sunday.
A Lebanese security source said
the nuns had been taken to the
Lebanese town of Arsal earlier in
the week and were headed to Syria
overnight accompanied by the head
of a Lebanese security agency and a
Qatari intelligence o cial.
e nuns went missing in
December after Islamist ghters
took the ancient quarter of the
Christian town of Maaloula north
After being held in the Greek
Orthodox monastery of Mar ecla
in Maaloula, they were reportedly
moved to the rebel-held town
of Yabroud, about 20km to the
north, which is now the focus of a
government military operation.
Speaking to reporters at the
border, Syrian Greek Orthodox
Bishop Louka al-Khoury welcomed
the news. "What the Syrian army
achieved in Yabroud facilitated this
process," he said.
Shortly after the
disappeared, Islamist rebels said
they had taken them as their
"guests" and that they would
release them soon.
e British-based Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights
monitoring group identi ed
the rebels who took the nuns as
militants from the Nusra Front, al
Qaeda's a liate in Syria.
e observatory and a rebel
source in the area said the release
of the nuns had been agreed as part
of a swap in which the government
would free scores of women
" e deal is for the release of 138
women from Assad's prisons," the
rebel source said, referring to Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad.
In December, the nuns appeared
in a video obtained by Al Jazeera
television, saying they were in good
health, but it was not clear under
what conditions the video had been
Syrian State television devoted
signi cant coverage to the
release overnight, but it made no
mention of any prisoner exchange
It broadcast live footage from the
Lebanese border and interviews
with church o cials, including one
who denounced the west as only
believing "in the dollar".
A montage of Christian religious
imagery including churches, a
statue of the Virgin Mary and
murals of Jesus was set against
dramatic music and described Syria
as a "cradle of the monotheistic
Syria's Christian minority has
broadly tried to stay on the sidelines
of the three-year-old-con ict,
which has killed over 140,000
people and which has become
But the rise of hardline Islamists
among the overwhelmingly Sunni
Muslim opposition has alarmed
many. Assad, whose minority
Alawite sect is an o shoot of
Shi'ite Islam, has portrayed himself
as a bulwark against militant and
intolerant ideologies. --- Reuters
Syrian rebels free nuns
Focus on two
An Australian man who went missing in
ailand more than a month ago has reportedly
been found across the border su ering from
Financial consultant Nathan Hansford had
last been seen leaving his home in the Bangkok
suburb of ungkru on January 31, prompting
ai police to launch an investigation last week.
Fairfax Media reported on Sunday that Mr
Hansford had been located in Cambodia.
A family statement released to Fairfax said Mr
Hansford had been involved in a motor vehicle
accident and was su ering from amnesia.
"It is time for us to focus on helping Nathan in
his recovery," the statement said. --- AAP
Aust man with amnesia found in Cambodia
A Mexican drug lord who was reported dead
more than three years ago was probably killed in
a shoot-out in western Mexico early yesterday, a
government o cial said.
Nazario Moreno, a leader of a powerful
criminal gang that has ravaged the western
State of Michoacan, was reported killed by the
government in a re ght in December 2010.
But his body was never recovered and he was
widely believed to be alive.
Authorities were checking on reports that
Moreno was shot dead early yesterday during
a gun ght in Michoacan, said the o cial, who
spoke on condition of anonymity.
"Everything suggests, to a degree of certainty
of around 98%, that it is this man (Moreno),"
the o cial said overnight.
A government security spokesman said federal
forces were involved in the exchange of re but
could not con rm Moreno had been killed.
A spokeswoman for the State government of
Michoacan also said there was no con rmation
Moreno was a leader of a drug cartel
known as La Familia, which fractured after
his reported demise. Moreno's allies formed
the most powerful faction of La Familia, and
renamed themselves the Knights Templar after
a medieval military order.
e Knights Templar had much of Michoacan
under its control until local vigilante groups
rose up against them at the start of this year and
began to overrun the gang's strongholds.
Malaysia intelligence agencies
are investigating how two
passengers with suspect identities
were able to board the missing
Boeing 777, as planes and ships
from across Asia resumed the
hunt for the aircraft.
e terror probe into the
disappearance of the jet and its
239 passengers, including two
New Zealanders, was begun as
the United States sent in the FBI
and other agencies.
e involvement of terrorists
was just one theory on the
possible cause of the jet's
e foreign ministries in Italy
and Austria said the names of
two citizens listed on the ight's
manifest matched those on two
passports reported stolen in
is, and the sudden
disappearance of the plane that
experts say is consistent with
a possible explosion on board,
strengthened concerns about
terrorism as a possible cause for
Al Qaeda militants have used
similar tactics to try to disguise
Late last night, the BBC
reported that the suspects
with the stolen passports had
purchased their tickets from
China Southern Airlines,
which shared the ight with
Malaysia Airlines, and they had
consecutive ticket numbers.
Britain's Guardian newspaper
said the pair used ai currency
to buy the tickets the day before
ey were due to y to Beijing,
then wait for around 10 hours
before ying to Amsterdam.
Once there, one was due to travel
on to Frankfurt and the other to
Earlier in the night, the New
York Times reported that the
Pentagon, using a system that
looks for ashes around the
world, reviewed preliminary
surveillance data from the area
where the plane disappeared and
saw no evidence of an explosion.
Malaysian Transport Minister
Hishammuddin Hussein initially
said authorities were looking
at four possible cases of suspect
identities. But he later said there
were in fact only two suspect
Malaysian intelligence agencies
were in contact with international
counterparts, including the FBI,
A Malaysia Airlines executive,
Ignatius Ong Ming Choy,
con rmed that the jet appeared
to have turned back towards
Company chief executive
Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the
pilot was supposed to inform
the airline and tra c control
authorities if he did return, but
o cials had received no distress
Finding traces of an aircraft
that disappears over sea can take
days or longer because wreckage
can be scattered over many
kilometres. If the plane enters the
water before breaking up, there
can be relatively little debris.
Investigators will need access
to the ight data recorders to
determine what happened.
Aviation and terrorism experts
said revelations about stolen
passports would strengthen
speculation of foul play. ey
also acknowledged that other
scenarios, including some
catastrophic failure of the engines
or structure of the plane, extreme
turbulence or pilot error or even
suicide, were also possible.
Professor Jason Middleton,
head of the University of New
South Wales School of Aviation,
said terrorism or some other
form of foul play seemed a likely
"You're looking at some highly
unexpected thing, and the only
ones people can think of are
basically foul play, being either
a bomb or some immediate
incapacitating of the pilots
by someone doing the wrong
thing and that might lead to an
aeroplane going straight into the
ocean," Professor Middleton said.
Greg Barton, a professor
of international politics at
Australia's Monash University
and a terrorism expert, said if
the disaster was the result of
terrorism, there was no obvious
suspect. --- AP
'Dead' Mexican drug lord
probably killed in shoot-out
La Purisima Concepcion
Terrorist attack possible
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