In a story that has captured the world’s attention, a commercial airliner en route to Beijing, China disappeared approximately one hour after it left Kuala Lumpur, leaving only a string of curious leads as to its fate, and no trace of its present whereabouts.
The craft vanished early on Saturday morning, carrying a crew of 239 people that included one American and, now famously, at least four Iranians, suspected of carrying false passports. China had announced Monday that they planned to deploy live satellites to aid in the search, while other sources planned to use infrasound technology to try and determine if an explosion was detected at the plane’s presumed altitude at the time it was presumed to have disappeared.
At 1:20 AM, just over 40 minutes after departing from Kuala Lumpur, MH370 made its final contact with air traffic controllers, as the plane was passing over the South China Sea. At this time, it was believed that the plane’s onboard transponder may have ceased to function. Theories about what happened next have been varied in the days since its disappearance, ranging from a mechanical failure, to a hijacking by terrorists, or even that the plane had been vaporized in midair at an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet, which could have explained the difficulty finding any wreckage that crash investigators were having.
This theory changed on Tuesday, when an unnamed official purportedly told the Reuters news agency that flight MH370 had “changed course after Kota Bharu [on the east coast] and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait.” At approximately 2:40 AM, more than an hour after signal from the plane had been lost, the plane was detected near the island of Pulau Perak, located north of Kuala Lumpur.
Presently, a possible terrorist act has not been ruled out, as news agencies continue to report on various connections that some feel may point to a range of conspiracies underlying the strange disappearance.
Among the stranger of these theories, the British Daily Mail offered several Tuesday morning, noting that a group of 20 defense tech experts on board (confirmed by the Wall Street Journal and other sources) could have been targets of “electronic warfare.” Other theories ranged from a bomb detonating while plane flew over the Malaysian jungle, to what were described as “aeronautical black holes” which would have caused the plane to seemingly vanish, while presenting equal resistance to aerial searches.
Additional headlines offered the possibility that phones on board the missing craft were receiving “phantom calls,” due to ringtones successfully playing during calling attempts. However, this, according to technology analysts, is unlikely. A statement by Jeff Kagan to CNN News detailed that “[callers are] hearing ringing and they’re assuming it’s connecting to their loved ones, but it’s not. It’s the network sending a signal to the phone letting them know it’s looking for them.”
At present, Boeing officials, as well as Malaysian investigators, have reportedly offered little in the way of speculation as to what may have occurred, and while the search continues–now with the inclusion of crowdsourced “e-searchers” combing satellite imagery for signs of wreckage, the Interpol agency continues to focus on stolen passports they believe may be part of a “stolen passport syndicate,” in addition to a pair of “mystery passengers” that attracted the attention of investigators in the early stages of the investigation.
Image by Sailsbystars via Wikimedia Commons.