Friends Fear USC Graduate Student Was Aboard Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

Friends fear a 27-year-old University of Southern California graduate student was among the 239 passengers on board a Malaysia Airlines jet that went missing last weekend.

USC officials confirmed Qiao Xing graduated in December 2012 with an MS in Petroleum Engineering. 

The school did not confirm Xing was aboard the plane, but her name appears on the passenger manifest and friends told NBC4 they fear she was among the passengers. Her friends told NBC4 they have not heard from her since the plane's disappearance nearly one week ago.

Xing is an employee with Shell Oil Company in Beijing, according to her Linkedin profile. Friends at USC told NBC4 she was in Malaysia as part of training with the company.

The Boeing 777 vanished Saturday two hours after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur. It was bound for Beijing when contact with the Boeing 777's transponder stopped about a 12 minutes before a messaging system quit on the jet.

Investigators are increasingly certain the missing Malaysian Airlines jet turned back across the country after its last radio contact with air traffic controllers, and that someone with aviation skills was responsible for the change in course, a Malaysian government official said Friday.

A Malaysian official said Friday night investigators concluded that one or more people with significant flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, switched off communication devices and steered it off-course, the Associated Press reported.

The official, who wasn't authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was not clear where the plane was taken, and that the hijacking was no longer a theory.

No motive has been establish, and no theory has been ruled out in one of modern aviation's most puzzling mysteries.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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