Italian ‘aboard’ MH370 found by Thai police, report says

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — Italian Luigi Maraldi, whose passport was used by another person to board missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, has been located by Thai police in Phuket, according to local website.

Maraldi returned to the island in Thailand on March 1, where he reportedly lost his passport to fraud during a visit last year.

Thai police tracked down Maraldi earlier today to assist in the case of the still-missing plane that had been bound for Beijing.

“I really don’t have much to add. I am not an expat who lives on Phuket. I have come and gone as a tourist,” Maraldi was quoted as saying on the Phuket Wan website.

According to the report, the Italian explained that he had surrendered his passport on July 22 last year as deposit to a scooter rental operator, who later “returned” the document to another foreigner claiming to be Maraldi’s wife.

Maraldi then lodged a police report on July 25, before he returned to Italy using a temporary passport.

The Italian’s was one of two passports confirmed as having been used by unidentified individuals to board the missing flight; the other belongs to Austrian Christian Kozel, who also reportedly lost his passport in Thailand.

Earlier today, news channel CNN reported that the two passports were used to buy two tickets for MH370 from China Southern Airlines in Thai baht for identical prices and had contiguous numbers.

That the two tickets had adjoining numbers showed they were issued together, CNN said.

Malaysian authorities earlier confirmed two passengers boarded the missing Beijing-bound flight under dubious identities.

The existence of two passengers with stolen passports onboard MH370 raised suspicion of possible foul play in the plane’s disappearance.

The Boeing 777 was first reported missing earlier yesterday morning after MAS confirmed that the Subang Air Traffic Control had notified it that the aircraft dropped off its radar at around 1.30am.

The Beijing-bound flight had departed from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 12.41am carrying 239 people on board, including 12 crew members and two infants.

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