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Interest Grows in Malaysian Airliners Disappearance

A photo taken on March 20, 2014, shows Royal Australian Air Force Loadmasters, Sergeant Adam Roberts (L) and Flight Sergeant John Mancey (R), preparing to launch a Self Locating Data Marker Buoy from a C-130J Hercules aircraft.
Nearly two weeks after Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 mysteriously disappeared, Cambodians in Phnom Penh say they feel sympathy for the families of those 239 passengers on board.

News of the plane’s disappearance has reached people here by radio and television, and earlier this week, Cambodia announced it would aid in the search for wreckage in the Gulf of Thailand.

“As far as I know, the plane changed direction before it disappeared from radar,” said So Chhar, a grocer near Phnom Penh International Airport. “We don’t know where it is now—whether it crashed on land or sea.” So Chhar said he was optimistic the crash would be found soon, however.

In fact, the search for the missing plane has moved to the southern Indian Ocean, where on Friday poor weather hampered efforts. In a remote part of the ocean, searchers are following a lead from satellite imagery, which showed potential debris 1,000 miles off the coast of Australia.

Sitting beneath Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar bridge, 42-year-old tuk-tuk driver Orn Vantha said he knew some 26 countries were looking for the missing plane. “I don’t know where it could be,” he said.

In Phnom Penh, as elsewhere, people have their theories.

“The disappearance of the plane is a mystery,” said Reach Phearum, a taxi driver who shuttles between Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham province. He doubted terrorist activity was involved, he said.

At a coffee shop in Orussey Market in the center of the city, Uy Sophat, a staff member at the Ministry of Defense, said he shared hope the plane would be found soon.

“We are all human beings,” he said. “I hope there are survivors.”