Officials today confirmed what we have feared for some time – that a relatively tiny search zone in the southern Indian Ocean is not the final resting place of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
From an underwater mission covering 850 sq km (320 sq mile) where acoustic “pings” were heard, the area being searched has now been extended to around a 60,000 sq km (23,100 sq mile) zone based on satellite data which remains disputed in some quarters.
The Australia-led search control team estimate it could be August – next year – before this region has been covered, and hopes of finding the Boeing 777’s flight recorders are becoming increasingly dim.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the circumstances of MH370’s bizarre disappearance, it has become rich territory for aviation experts, bloggers and conspiracy theorists alike.
Here we round up 13 of the most prominent theories as to where the plane ended up, and what went wrong in the first place.
Shot down in a military training exercise
While the Australian officials leading the search for MH370 say they remain “absolutely convinced” it ended up in the southern Indian Ocean, some passengers’ families – and theorists – distrust the unprecedented satellite data analysis involved. All the Presidentsu201... Best Price: $4.39 Buy New $44.43 (as of 08:35 EST - Details)
Among those who support this view are the British journalist and author Nigel Cawthorne, who has controversially already published the first book on the plane’s disappearance.
He supports one theory, based on the eye-witness testimony of New Zealand oil rig worker Mike McKay, that the plane was shot down shortly after it stopped communicating with air traffic controllers.
At the time there was a series of war games taking place in the South China Sea involving Thailand, the US and personnel from China, Japan, Indonesia and others, and Cawthorne has linked this to Mr McKay’s claims to have seen a burning plane going down in the Gulf of Thailand.
Flown north and shot down deliberately, prompting cover-up
At a stage in the investigation when it was believed the plane could have flown for some time from where it disappeared along either a northern or southern corridor, many posted on forums suggesting that if it had been the former we would never hear about what happened.
Some still support this view, and former RAF navigator Sean Maffett told the BBC that after 9/11, any unidentified airliner entering the airspace of another country would lead to fighter jets being scrambled.
“If the plane is in the northern arc it could easily have been shot down,” he said. This theory also involves a national – or possibly international – cover-up, based on the premise that no country would want to admit to shooting down an airliner full of passengers from all over the world.
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