The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Saturday along with its 239 passengers has deepened, with new reports that families of the missing travelers have gotten ringing tones while calling their missing loved ones.
While waiting at Beijing's Metropark Lido Hotel for news on Monday, several relatives of the missing reported they were able to contact their disappeared family members' cellphone, while others saw them appear online on the Chinese instant messenger service QQ, reports The Washington Post.
The rumors raised hopes that their phones, and by extension the owners of the phones, had not been destroyed in a crash. No wreckage from such a crash has been found, raising the mysteriousness of the entire event.
Hugh Dunleavy, a Malaysia Airlines official, told families that the airline had tried calling the phones of crew members on the plane and similarly reached a ringing tone, indicating the phones were still connected.
Reportedly 19 families of the missing passengers have signed a joint statement confirming their calls connected to their loved ones, reports the British Daily Mail.
"This morning (Monday), around 11:40 a.m., I called my older brother's number twice, and I got the ringing tone," said one passenger's sister, Bian Liangwei, who called the number on live television according to International Business Times.
Bian reports ringing through again at 2 p.m. The desperate hopes of the families can be discerned in her words, as she said "if I could get through, the police could locate the position, and there's a chance he could still be alive."
Terrorism 'can't be ruled out'
One of the strange twists in the case is that two Iranian nationals boarded the flight on stolen European passports. Interpol identified the men as Pouria Nour Mohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29. Thai police also found an Iranian named Kazem Ali sold the passports and booked the tickets.
The plane reportedly started to turn around before disappearing, raising fears that it was hijacked. Nevertheless, Malaysian police reported the younger Iranian seemed not to have any links to terrorism.
However, John Brennan, CIA head and former counter-terrorism adviser to US President Barack Obama, remarked that terrorist could not be ruled out.
Brennan noted there had been "some claims of responsibility" over the missing plane which had "not been confirmed or corroborated."
"There are a number of very curious anomalies about all of this," commented Brennan. In addition to the turning around and the stolen passports, he added "what about the transponder? Why did it sort of, you know, just disappear from the radar?"