Austrian, Italian on Malaysia plane list safe and sound


An Italian and an Austrian feared to have died on a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft that went missing in Asia on Saturday had their passports stolen and are safe, officials said.

Italian Luigi Maraldi, 37, was on holiday in Thailand and immediately phoned home after seeing on the news that an Italian with his name was on the vanished airliner — and before his father had seen the news.

“I turned on (rolling television news channel) RAI News24 and I saw what had happened. Thankfully, everything is okay. Luigi is on holiday, he’s coming home in three weeks,” his father told news agency Ansa.

Last to know were the police officers who knocked on the door of the Maraldi family home in Cesena in north-eastern Italy, fully expecting to have to impart some tragic news.

“We were prepared for the worst. It’s never nice to have to go and tell people something like this,” police inspector Paolo Campana told Ansa.

“But the parents told me that Luigi had phoned an hour earlier at 8:00 am (0700 GMT) to reassure them after he had seen on Thai media the news of a death of an Italian with his name.”

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Maraldi had his passport stolen in Malaysia in August.

Malaysia Airlines meanwhile also contacted Austria’s foreign ministry, saying that the name of an Austrian was also on the passenger list of the plane, a spokesman for the ministry said in Vienna.

“We contacted the person to whom the passport belonged. This person is in Austria and safe and sound. His passport was stolen in 2012 on a trip to Thailand,” spokesman Martin Weiss told AFP.

He gave no details on the person’s name or age. He said the ministry had not been contacted about any other missing Austrians thought to have been on the flight.

Contact with Flight MH370 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was lost somewhere between Malaysia’s east coast and southern Vietnam, relaying no distress signal or other signs of trouble.

No trace had been found by nightfall Saturday but Vietnam said its search planes spotted oil slicks 15 to 20 kilometres (10-12 miles) long in the sea, in the first hint at the Boeing 777-200’s possible fate.