Mystery of the missing Malaysian aircraft MH370 deepened as investigations into the latest claim of possible debris found off 1500 miles south west of Perth, Australia ran into a stone wall.
Malaysians hold candles during a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur. REUTERS
Since the disappearance of the aircraft on March 8, various theories have emerged explaining the possible fate of MH370. The increasing array of possibilities has left the investigators baffled while numerous reports emerge daily of possible sightings of debris and contradicting claims of the final contact point with the aircraft.
On March 9, a day after the disappearance, Vietnam claimed to have found debris and oil slicks which they believed were related to the missing aircraft.
However, authorities denied the reports the following day - the oil slicks sighted revealing to be from a ship while the ‘life-raft’ spotted off the coast of Vietnam turning out to be a moss-covered cable reel.
Meanwhile, reports of a possible turn of the flight surfaced based on radar-trafficking data, which puzzled the investigators due to the absence of a distress call in the event of the turn. It also indicated the earliest signs of a possible foul play contributing to the disappearance of the aircraft.
The investigations then turned toward the two Italian and Austrian men believed to be on board the flight with passports allegedly stolen in Thailand within the past two years. It stoked fears of a terrorist plot along with reports of five passengers who had checked in but never boarded the flight.
On March 12, unconfirmed reports emerged of Malaysian fishermen spotting what appeared to be a raft with the word “Boarding” floating off the east coast of Malaysia while Beijing News claimed that a dead body was seen in the Malacca strait wearing a life vest.
March 13 onwards reports of the possibility of the flight remaining airborne for as long as 7 ½ hours since its last contact with air-traffic controls emerged, based on data from the Boeing’s engine data and its satellite pings.
Peter Chong holds up his smartphone to show a photo of himself with missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah during an interview with Reuters
March 14 – with almost a week expired following the disappearance, a new theory emerged based on radar-trafficking suggesting MH370 may have flown deliberately off course towards the Andaman Islands after it last made contact with air traffic control, suggesting someone with aviation training was at the helm.
In probably the most controversial twist to the story, Malaysian PM confirmed the aircraft’s communications systems were deliberately turned off, confirming reports of foul play and the investigations focusing on the two pilots.
By this point, a total of 25 countries were assisting the search including Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia and special assistance with decoding satellite data from the US, China and France. The hunt for the aircraft focused on a vast land and sea area - a northern and a southern corridor arcing through much of Asia.
Australian PM Tony Abbott yesterday (20) announced in the country’s parliament that satellite images of what could be the aircraft debris as wide as 70.8 m was sighted in the seas off Perth. The sightings were described as the most ‘credible leads’ discovered since the commencement of the search that started over a week ago.
However, the satellite images had been taken four days ago, which indicated further difficulties in locating the possible debris. Despite some five planes and a Norwegian merchant ship searching the area 2500km southwest of Perth since last night, nothing has been found so far.
The wait for news of their loved ones has been agonizing for the families of passengers onboard the missing flight with unconfirmed reports surfacing daily of various possible leads and conspiracy theories. Most families have been refusing to accept reports of possible debris being found in coast off Perth, determined to believe their loved ones are still alive. Reports claimed that due to China’s one child policy, most Chinese passengers onboard the missing flight are only-children and that most parents have turned suicidal not knowing what became of their children. 154 of the total 239 passengers on board were Chinese nationals. (Compiled by Lackna Paranamanna)
A policeman holds up photos of the two Iranian men who travelling onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 on stolen passports Reuters
The search area for flight MH370 now covers an area of up to 30 million square miles, with the missing plane thought to have made its final satellite communication from one of two vast air 'corridors' stretching thousands of miles north and south of Malaysia. The Telegraph
This combo of handout images taken by satellite image provider DigitalGlobe on March 16, 2014 and released on March 20, 2014 by the Australian Government's Department of Defence via the Australian Maritime Safety Authority show satelite images of objects in the Indian Ocean which may be from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which disappeared en route to Beijing early on March 8. Australia said on March 20 that the two objects -- the largest estimated at 24 metres (79 feet) long -- spotted in the Indian Ocean were the “best lead we have” in the search for the missing Malaysian passenger jet. AFP