Some people are coming to suspect foul play behind the mysterious disappearance and likely crash of the Boeing 777 carrying some 239 people from Malaysia to China. The plane’s sudden disappearance in clear weather without any type of distress call and the presence of at least two people traveling on the plane with fake passports is raising further suspicions.

Malaysia Airlines

The Boeing 777 is one of the world’s safest and most popular planes. Having been in service for nearly 20 years, the aircraft has a near perfect safety record. In fact, the plane had a perfect record until last year when the now-infamous Asiana crash occurred. That crash, however, has been attributed to pilot error.

Malaysia Airlines: mysterious circumstances surrounding disappearance

The entire case is riddled with mystery. For starters, the Malaysia Airlines plane went down in clear weather without launching any type of distress signals or calling for help. The plane had already reached a cruising altitude when it had crashed. Planes rarely experience serious problems at cruising speeds, with most accidents instead coming during the crucial landing and takeoff stages.

The lack of radio or emergency contact from the plane is especially troubling. Most experts believe that the plane must have broken up very quickly, as if it were a slowly developing emergency (such as engine failure), the plane would have contacted ground control.

Adding more to the mystery, radar indicates that the Malaysia Airlines plane tried to turn around just before it disappeared. In such an event, the airplane should have notified ground control of why it was making the u-turn.

Malaysia Airlines: Passengers with fake passports add to mystery

Perhaps most intriguing of all. At least two passengers on the airplane were flying with stolen passports. The two passports, one belonging to an Austrian, the other to an Italian, were both stolen in Thailand. The theft was noted in Interpol’s database along with some 40,000 other stolen travel documents. Unfortunately, Malaysian authorities did not check the travel documents. Indeed, Interpol notes that only a small number of countries check travel documents.

Both passengers also had onward flights to Europe. This seemingly minor detail is important to note because their possession of European passports and onward flights to Europe means that Chinese authorities would have had to issue a visa and instead would have simply allowed the passengers to pass through.

Apparently, authorities are claiming that they have ID’d one of the two men, and are closing in on the second. Early reports indicate that the two men were not of Asian descent and appear to be from elsewhere. The presence of two people with fake passports is causing many to suspect foul play.

It should be noted, however, that thousands of people travel each year with fake travel documents. Human traffickers, drug dealers, and others prefer to travel under the radar. So while it’s possible that the two individuals sabotaged the flight, it’s just as likely that they were trafficking drugs or other illicit materials.

Malaysia Airlines: Massive search turning up little evidence

Now, a massive search of the ocean of Vietnam has failed to turn up wreckage. At least 40 ships and 34 aircraft are involved with the current search. So far the black box, which would likely reveal what happened during the crash, has not been recovered. Authorities are hopeful, however, that the box is floating in the ocean somewhere, waiting to be recovered.

Earlier, it was believed that two oil slicks and possibly a piece of debris had been found. Now, authorities are claiming that the oil slicks and alleged debris do not appear to be related to the plane. In the mean time, Malaysian and other regional authorities are pledging to ramp up their efforts to solve the mystery.