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3 Weeks After, Wife Of Pilot Of The Malaysian Missing Plane With 239 Passengers Becomes Suspect

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah

The FBI was reported to be pressing Malaysian investigators to interrogate Faizah, who is the estranged wife of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah who was the pilot of the Malaysian aircraft that disappeared into thin are about three weeks ago, with no fewer than 239 passengers aboard, including the crew members.
Faizah was said to have lived with Ahmad Shah in the same house along with their children, but the pair were said to be separated.
So far, local authorities have spoken with her, but have not pressed the issue of her husband’s frame of mind.
This is even as
investigators in Kuala Lumpur are said to be trying to ascertain the identity of a caller who spoke with the pilot on his mobile phone not long before the ill-fated plane took off.
The phone call, according to investigation, lasted for two minutes and was placed to Captain Ahmad Shah’s mobile phone from a cell phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card. Authorities traced the card to a shop in Kuala Lumpur.
Investigators say that the ID provided for the purchase, as required by law, turned out to be bogus. All that is known is that the purchaser gave a woman’s name.
While the development raises the possibility of a terrorist connection, such clandestine methods are also habitually used by political opponents of the government who don’t want their conversations traced.
Meanwhile, The Times of London has reported that the plane’s cargo bay contained a consignment of phone and computer lithium-ion batteries. According to the newspaper, such batteries have been known on rare occasions to ignite on aircraft.
In 2010, a UPS cargo plane crashed in Dubai after the batteries caught fire. Another UPS plane had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia in 2006 after a fire later traced to the batteries, according to the Times.
Production of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft was delayed due to problems with lithium batteries that caused electrical fires.
The batteries are not considered hazardous cargo, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, Malaysian officials told the Times.
On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there was “increasing hope” of a breakthrough in the hunt for the plane on the strength of Chinese and Australian satellite images of possible large debris from the plane in the southern search area.
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens early on March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on a scheduled flight to Beijing.
An international force resumed its search efforts on Sunday, zeroing in on two areas some 2,500 km (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth in an effort to find the object identified by China and other small debris, including a wooden pallet spotted by a search plane on Saturday.
“The weather in the southern Indian Ocean is much clearer today than the past couple days, allowing for the full spectrum electronic and visual of search capability,” Commander William J. Marks, spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, said in an email.
The Chinese discovery was dramatically announced by Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein on Saturday, after he was handed a note with details during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.
China said the object was 22 meters long (74ft) and 13 meters (43ft) wide, and spotted around 120 km (75 miles) “south by west” of potential debris reported by Australia off its west coast.
It could not easily be determined from the blurred images whether the objects were the same as those detected by Australia, but the Chinese photograph could depict a cluster of smaller objects, said a senior military officer from one of the 26 nations involved in the search for the plane.
The wing of a Boeing 777-200ER is approximately 27 meters long and 14 meters wide at its base, according to estimates derived from publicly available scale drawings. Its fuselage is 63.7 meters long by 6.2 meters wide.
Investigators believe someone on the flight shut off the plane’s communications systems, and partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.
That has led them to focus on hijacking or sabotage, but they have not ruled out technical problems. Faint electronic “pings” detected by a commercial satellite suggested it flew for another six hours or so, but could do no better than place its final signal on one of two vast arcs.
While the southern arc is now the main focus of the search, Malaysia says the search will continue in both corridors until confirmed debris is found.
“Hopefully, we will eventually provide some sort of closure or at least understanding of what happened on board Malaysian Airlines Flight MA370,” Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said.
“The search will continue and will continue as long as there’s hope.”
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said eight aircraft scoured two areas covering 59,000 sq km (23,000 sq miles) on Sunday, following news of the Chinese discovery.
Also of interest was a wooden pallet with various strapping belts that was seen by a civilian jet on Saturday.

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