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The Disappearance of MH370 : The Story So Far

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Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing on its way to Beijing on 8th March 2014

International passenger aircraft MH370 was scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8th March 2014, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew-members. Flying over the South China Sea, it lost contact with air traffic control and eventually disappeared off Malaysia’s military radar after crossing the Andaman Sea.

Initial searches into the disappearance were futile

A multinational search was carried out using submarines, satellites, aircrafts and ships. Over 4,600,000 square kilometres (including the South China Sea, Malaysia and Gulf of Thailand, Andaman Sea and Strait of Malacca) were searched through bathymetric survey and sonar search, but nothing was found.

Malaysia constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to solve the mystery

Specialists from around the world were brought together to figure out what happened to MH370. Since there were no distress signals, bad weather or technical problems, human error became the prime suspect in the case. Investigators also hypothesised that the aircraft probably turned south and flew for 5 hours before running out of fuel, ending its journey in the southern Indian Ocean.

Australia took over investigations in southern Indian Ocean

As the search concentrated to the southern Indian Ocean, Australia was put in charge of the operation. This was the largest and most expensive search in aviation history, completely surveying the ocean floor about 1,800 kilometres south-west of Western Australia.

In 2015, some debris was discovered on an island in the western Indian Ocean

On 29th July 2015, a flaperon from Flight 370 washed ashore on Réunion Island in the western Indian Ocean. It was then sent to a French investigation agency for examination. On 2nd August, Malaysian officials confirmed that the debris was a part of Flight 370.

Afterwards, more debris were found scattered around the margins of the Indian Ocean

Debris confirmed to have belonged to MH 370 were further discovered in Mozambique, Reunion Island, South Africa, Mauritius and Pemba Island (Off the coast of Tanzania). These pieces were found over a large area, which is very hard to search properly. With this in mind, the authorities decided to end the search by August 2016.

Investigations failed to established the cause of the disappearance

None of the investigations could determine the cause of the incident, but some possibilities have been suggested. Suspicion was raised against 2 men who boarded the flight with stolen passports and were believed to be asylum seekers. A flight engineer travelling was marked as a possible suspect because he had the skills required for a hijacking. Lithium ion batteries, carried in the cargo may also be a reason for the disappearance as lithium batteries can cause fire when exposed to heat.

Families of the victims decided to take up the search themselves

On 21st November 2016, families of the victims came together to announce that they intend to conduct searches for more debris around Madagascar, in search for answers. However, sadly they are yet to find anything concrete.

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