— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) March 10, 2014
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished into thin air without a trace shortly after leaving Kuala Lumpur early Saturday. At least 10 countries have joined in the air and sea search for the missing plane. Investigators are focusing on the identities of two passengers who were carrying stolen passports. The two men were initially described as Asians.
On Sunday, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi criticized border agents for letting the two passengers pass through. "I am still perturbed. Can't these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian but with Asian faces," he said on Sunday.
But Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul now says the men were not Asian.
“It is confirmed now that they are not Asian looking men,” Abdul said. When asked by a reporter to describe how they looked, Abdul said “Do you know a footballer by the name of [Mario Balotelli],” describing the black Italian soccer star who plays for AC Milan.
"I can confirm that he is not a Malaysian, but cannot divulge which country he is from yet," Abdul said to reporters.
The search for the missing airliner has now widened to include Vietnam and reports of debris spotted south of Hong Kong. It will be Tuesday before any information is known. Officials are not ruling out the possibility of a hijacking.
Update: a Thai travel agent who sold the tickets to the two mystery passengers said the tickets were arranged by an "Iranian contact" who wanted cheap tickets to Europe.
Update II, 12:45 p.m.
Reports of a possible life raft from the missing airliner in the south China seas has turned out to be false.
V. Distasteful moment in #Malaysia crash press briefing-stolen passport holders not Asian looking,but 'like Balotelli'; media all laughing.
— Brendan May (@bmay) March 10, 2014