Oil slick not from missing Malaysian plane; men who used 2 stolen passports of 'non-Asian' appearance
Electronic booking records show that one-way tickets with those names were issued Thursday from a travel agency in the beach resort of Pattaya in eastern Thailand.
Thai police Col. Supachai Phuykaeokam said those reservations were placed with the agency by a second travel agency in Pattaya, which told police it had received the bookings from a China Southern Airlines office in Bangkok.
The owners of the second Pattaya travel agency refused to talk to reporters. Thai police and Interpol officers went in to question the owners.
A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline confirmed Sunday that passengers named Maraldi and Kozel had been booked on one-way tickets on the same KLM flight, flying from Beijing to Amsterdam on Saturday. Maraldi was to fly on to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany.
As holders of EU passports with onward flights to Europe, the passengers would not have needed visas for China.
Interpol said it and national investigators were working to determine the identities of those who used the stolen passports to board the flight.
Interpol has long sounded the alarm that growing international travel has underpinned a new market for identity theft: Bogus passports are mostly used by illegal immigrants, but also pretty much anyone looking to travel unnoticed such as drug runners or terrorists. More than 1 billion times last year, travelers boarded planes without their passports being checked against Interpol's database of 40 million stolen or lost travel documents, the police agency said.
Azharuddin also said the baggage of five passengers who had checked in to the flight but did not board the plane were removed before it departed, he said. Airport security was strict according to international standards, surveillance has been done and the airport has been audited, he said.
Associated Press writers Thanyarat Doksone in Pattaya, Gillian Wong and Louise Watt in Beijing, Joan Lowy in Washington and Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed this report.
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