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Image of Iranians on Malaysian jet released

Iran has offered its assistance with the Malaysian investigation into the two of its nationals

Published: Updated:

An image of two Iranians who were traveling with stolen passports on a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner has been released by Interpol on Wednesday.

The men were identified as Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, and Delavar Seyedmohammaderza, 29. The 19-year-old is believed to have planned to seek asylum in Germany.

The image showed the two Iranian men boarding a plane at the same time. Interpol secretary general Ronald K. Noble said Tuesday the two men traveled to Malaysia on their Iranian passports, then apparently switched to the stolen Austrian and Italian documents.

Noble said the recent information about the men made terrorism a less likely cause of the plane’s disappearance, but that did not allay concerns about the ease of travel involving stolen passports.

Meanwhile, Iran has offered its assistance Tuesday with the Malaysian investigation into the two of its nationals.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Iran was “following up on reports regarding the possibility of two Iranian passengers aboard the plane.”

“We are offering our cooperation to obtain more information,” she said, pledging that Tehran would provide “any information on the Iranians and their status as soon as it is available.”

Fears of terrorism were stoked by the weekend revelation that two men boarded the flight using stolen European passports. But police said people-smuggling was emerging as the likeliest explanation for the identity fraud.

Widened search

Authorities have doubled the search radius to 100 nautical miles around the point where Malaysia Airlines MH370 disappeared from radar over the South China Sea early Saturday, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

With the aviation industry and authorities baffled over the plane’s fate, investigators say they are ruling nothing out over how a huge Boeing 777-200 jet could have completely vanished.

“There is no evidence to suggest an act of terror,” a European security source told Reuters news agency, who added that there was also “no explanation what’s happened to it or where it is.”

Meanwhile, dozens of ships and aircraft from 10 countries were still scouring the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam as questions mounted over possible security lapses that could have led to a downing of the Boeing 777-200ER after it climbed to an altitude of 35,000 feet.

The Boeing 777 was about an hour into its flight early Saturday, traveling smoothly in clear weather at about 35,000 feet, when it vanished from radar screens. A video released has shown the precise moment the plane went off the grid.