Terrorism in the skies, again?

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is beginning to look like act of terrorism. Granted, at this point, this is only speculation but consider this:

In the nearly 20 years that the Boeing 777 has been in commercial service only one has crashed—Asiana flight 214 on landing at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, 2013. That accident was entirely due to pilot error, not to any mechanical or electronic malfunction on the plane. Of course this does not rule out a catastrophic failure in flight but it does make such an occurrence seem unlikely.

A Vietnamese Navy patrol plane has spotted a 20-kilometer (12-mile) long oil slick on the South China Sea along the projected path of flight 370. That strongly suggests that the plane broke up in flight. Had it ditched into the water, the oil slick would be much smaller; had the pilots deliberately dumped fuel it would have atomized and not caused a slick. Only a rapid rupture of the fuel tanks at altitude could have caused so much fuel to be dispersed over such a long path.

The strongest evidence of foul play is the fact that two of the names on the flight manifest are of persons—one Italian and one Austrian—who had reported their passports stolen within the past couple of years. Both persons have been accounted for and neither was on the plane.

Obviously it will take authorities some time to find the remains of the B777-200 and much more time to ascertain the cause of the crash. But indications are that this may well be yet another incident of international terrorism.

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