KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) – The mysteries surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and the true identities of some of its passengers, are as deep as the South China Sea waters a multinational search team is canvassing for the jet.
One promising lead has turned out to be a dead end. A “strange object” spotted by a Singaporean search plane late Sunday afternoon is not debris from the missing jetliner, a U.S. official familiar with the issue told CNN on Sunday.
A U.S. reconnaissance plane “thought it saw something like debris but it was a false alarm,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
By the end of the day Sunday, more than 40 planes and more than two dozen ships from several countries were involved in the search. Two reconnaissance aircraft from Australia, and one plane and five sea vessels from Indonesia were the latest additions, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the director general of civil aviation in Malaysia, told reporters Sunday. In addition, the Chinese navy dispatched a frigate and an amphibious landing ship, according to a online post by China’s navy. Those ships are expected to arrive on site Monday morning (Sunday night ET).
Those reinforcements join the rescue teams already scouring the South China Sea, near the Gulf of Thailand, on Sunday for any sign of where the flight, operated by Malaysia’s flagship airline, might have gone down, Malaysian authorities said.
Malaysian authorities have not yet confirmed the report of the oil slicks, which came from Vietnam’s official news agency.
Big questions far outweigh the few fragments of information that have emerged about the plane’s disappearance.
What happened to the plane? Why was no distress signal issued? Who exactly was aboard?
The flight may have changed course and turned back toward Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian military officials said at a news conference Sunday.
But the pilot appears to have given no signal to authorities that he was turning around, the officials said, attributing the change of course to indications from radar data.
Among the passengers, there were 154 people from China or Taiwan; 38 Malaysians, and three U.S. citizens. Five of the passengers were younger than 5 years old.