The Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has now been missing for over a week. Flight MH 370, with 239 passengers and crew on board, vanished the morning of Saturday, March 8. What was initially assumed to be a tragic crash or accident has now developed into a real-life version of the TV show Lost. There are now increasingly credible signs that someone on the jet deliberately diverted the plane only about one hour after departure.
The passengers were mostly Chinese and Malaysian, including seven children and a number of prominent Chinese nationals and artists. Despite the hundreds of passengers on board along with 12 crew members, no distress signals were sent. Even creepier is the fact that many passengers’ cell phones continued to ring when called, days after the jet’s disappearance. As anyone living in the 21st century knows, phones that have been turned off, have dead batteries, or have been destroyed will go straight to voicemail.
In a recent development, investigators have stated that the plane’s automated tracking systems were deliberately turned off early on in the flight. Additional military radar and satellite tracking has since confirmed that the plane changed course, and has provided generalized areas that the plane could have traveled to – although this includes most of the area between China and the Indian Ocean. And get this: based on the timing of the plane’s last confirmed communication with a satellite, the plane continued flying for nearly seven hours after contact with air traffic control was lost. These updates suggest that the plane was hijacked by a capable aviator with the necessary skill set to not only navigate a large aircraft, but also land it.
At this point, all possibilities are still being investigated. Interviews and background checks are being conducted on each one of the people onboard. Some passengers were travelling with stolen passports, but this is not unusual for people seeking asylum in other countries, and does not necessarily prove a terrorism link. Also, in cases of terrorism, a group will normally take credit for the act, which has not been reported. A crash is also a possibility, although weather conditions were good and updated reports of rerouting basically confirm a hijacking. In the case of a crash, it could take years to locate the black box and debris, as their location can only be tracked within a few hundred feet.
So, what happened? Why was all communication cut off only an hour in to the flight? Why did the plane keep flying for over seven hours off-course? And if it was hijacked, how were over two hundred passengers kept quiet without a single help signal or text message, even though cell phones are still ringing?
For now, some 25 countries (including 43 ships and 58 aircraft) are now involved in the search over land and sea, and flight MH 370 continues to develop into one of the most perplexing events of 2014.