Thailand is a haven for passport thieves. It turns out that it was not only the passport of 37-year-old Italian Luigi Maraldi which was stolen in the popular beach resort of Phuket and used to board the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
The passport of the 30-year-old Austrian Christian Kozel was also filched two years ago while he was on a flight from Phuket to Bangkok, according to the Austrian Foreign Ministry.
Terrorism is being considered by the Malaysian authorities investigating the mysterious disappearance of the Boeing 777 after it was discovered that the stolen passports were used by two passengers aboard the missing plane.
Another angle to the stolen passport, though is asylum. The Guardian reports that six Syrians who were seeking refugee status in Sweden were detailed for more than a month at Phuket International Airport after they attempted to fly to Stockholm through Beijing using stolen Greek passports. They choose the route because of successful attempts by other Syrians.
The apparent lax security at the Malaysian International Airport despite the passport of Mr Marladi being reported to Interpol as stolen could be due to allegations that some Malaysian immigration workers accept bribes in exchange for allowing illegal migrants into the country. Reports said that human trafficking gangs charge £450 for a Get into Malaysia package which includes a fake Malaysian citizenship card.
These two reports prompted Malaysia to organise a flying squad to address the immigration problems.
The search operations for the missing plane continue with over 40 planes and two dozen ships patrolling the area amid reports that the Vietnamese Navy spotted a floating object 80 kilometres southwest of Tho Chu Island in Vietnam. However, U.S. officials said the object is not debris from the missing jet.