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Closed but no closure: 4 years on, no headway in MH370 mystery

An independent investigation report released on Monday, more than four years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared highlighted shortcomings in the government response that exacerbated the mystery.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2018 17:52 IST
MH370,Malaysia Airlines flight MH370,MH370 disappearance
A girl writes a condolence message during the Day of Remembrance for MH370 event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 3.(AP Photo)

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, missing since 2014, was probably deliberately steered off course and flown to the southern Indian Ocean, said a long-awaited official report into the disappearance of the place. It gave no new clues, sparking anger among relatives of passengers.

Here is what we know so far:

Into Thin Air

MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board. Investigators have never been able to explain why the jet abandoned its route shortly into the flight, traversed Malaysia and then cruise south over the Indian Ocean.

The Theories

Analysis suggested MH370 ran out of fuel before plummeting at 25,000ft a minute. Other investigators speculated that a person was at the controls until the very end, gliding the plane into the ocean. Monday’s report didn’t support either theory explicitly. The plane’s loss of communications was more likely due to systems “being manually turned off”.

Faint Clues

A few pieces of wreckage from MH370 did wash up in Africa but no bodies have ever been recovered. The disappearance triggered the largest hunt in aviation history. But no sign of the jet was found in a 120,000-sq km Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led hunt was suspended in January last year. Malaysia’s new government has said the hunt could be resumed but only if new evidence comes to light.

No Headway

“The team is unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of MH370,” concluded the largely technical report.

‘Manipulation’

The report released on Monday said it was difficult to attribute the change in course to any system failure. “It is more likely that such maneuvers are due to the systems being manipulated.” The 449-page report offered little to solve modern aviation’s biggest mystery.

There’s nothing to suggest the plane was evading radar, or evidence of behavioural changes in the crew, it said. Significant parts of the aircraft’s power system, including the autopilot function, were probably working. “The possibility of intervention by a third party cannot be excluded,” said Kok Soo Chon, chief inspector of the MH370 investigation team

The report documented shortcomings among Kuala Lumpur air traffic controllers: they were slow to initiate emergency procedures and there was no evidence to suggest they were continuously monitoring radar displays.

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 09:48 IST