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12 weird conspiracy theories on Flight MH370

Last updated on: March 18, 2014 17:52 IST

12 weird conspiracy theories on Flight MH370

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The mystery over the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is getting increasingly intriguing.

Six days after it went off the radar, innumerable conspiracy theories float around over what may have possibly gone wrong with the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft just hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8.

The New York Times on Tuesday cited senior American officials as sayintg that the first turn to the west that diverted the missing Malaysia Airlines plane from its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was carried out through a computer system that was most likely programmed by someone in the plane’s cockpit who was knowledgeable about airplane systems.

'Instead of manually operating the plane’s controls, whoever altered Flight 370’s path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer on a knee-high pedestal between the captain and the first officer, according to officials. The Flight Management System, as the computer is known, directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight. It is not clear whether the plane’s path was reprogrammed before or after it took off,' the report said.

'The fact that the turn away from Beijing was programmed into the computer has reinforced the belief of investigators -- first voiced by Malaysian officials -- that the plane was deliberately diverted and that foul play was involved. It has also increased their focus on the plane’s captain and first officer.'

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Image: A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, flight 318 to Beijing, sat on the tarmac Monday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Flight 318 replaces 370, retired out of respect to the passengers and crew of the missing plane
Photographs: Edgar Su/Reuters

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The plane could be in Taliban-controlled regions

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Investigators also looked at a possibility of the plane being flown to Taliban-controlled bases.

Malaysian authorities sought diplomatic permission to scrutinise Taliban-controlled bases on the borders of Afghanistan and North West Pakistan, the Independent reports.

According to the report, experts said that the plane's transponders were deliberately disabled by someone of expertise on board, as the plane continued to give out 'pings' or satellite signals despite getting off radar.

Meanwhile, the satellite data pointed that the plane was on one of two possible arcs, one stretching north from Thailand to Kazakhstan and crossing more than 10 countries, and one to the south over Indonesia and out across the southern Indian Ocean.

Large areas of the southern half of Afghanistan are ruled by the Afghan Taliban, while some areas of north-west Pakistan, adjacent to or near to the Afghan border, are controlled by the Pakistani Taliban, the report said.

Malaysian officials said that the search area has been significantly expanded and changed, as they were now looking at large tracts of land, crossing 11 countries as well as deep and remote oceans and have also requested help from a dozen Asian countries and asked them to provide radar data.

Pakistani civil aviation officials said they had checked their radar recordings and found no sign of the missing jet.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Chinese satellites spotted the wreckage

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Another “red herring” for the investigators was the satellite imagery released by China, which showed "three suspected floating objects" of varying sizes in a 20-kilometre radius, the largest about 24-by-22 metres off the southern tip of Vietnam.

The images, taken a day after the MH370 went off radar by China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, gave coordinates of 105.63 east longitude, 6.7 north latitude, which would put it in waters northeast of where the aircraft took off in Kuala Lumpur, south of Vietnam and close to where the plane lost contact with air traffic control.

Malaysian authorities have, however, rejected the claim. "There is nothing. We went there, there is nothing," Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

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Image: The mysterious objects spotted by Chinese satellites
Photographs: China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence

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'I saw the plane coming down'

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New Zealander Mike McKay, who works on the oil rig Songa Mercur off Vung Tau on the south east coast of Vietnam, claimed he saw the ill-fated flight on fire.

In fact, McKay was so sure about what he saw that he mailed his employers, urging them to pass the information onto authorities.

In his email to his employers on March 12, he claims he saw flames in the sky which quickly extinguished.

“From when I first saw the burning (plane) until the flames went out (still at high altitude) was 10-15 seconds. There was no lateral movement, so it was either coming toward our location, stationary, or going away from our location,” he wrote.

“The general position of the observation was perpendicular/south west of the normal flight paths. The surface location of the observation is Lat 08 22’ 30.20” N Lat 108 42.22.26” E.”

Vietnamese officials sent a plane to the area to investigate the man’s claims, but the search was fruitless.

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Image: The letter New Zealander Mike McKay wrote to his employers


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5 hours of radio silence

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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that US investigators suspect a missing Malaysian jetliner flew on for four hours once it lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The report said, “Aviation investigators and national security officials believe the plane flew for a total of five hours based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing Co. BA -0.99% 777's engines as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring programme.”

“That raises a host of new questions and possibilities about what happened aboard the wide body jet carrying 239 people, which vanished from civilian air-traffic control radar over the weekend, about one hour into a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.”

The report adds that while Malaysian authorities have refused to comment on the new data, that "the huge uncertainty about where the plane was headed, and why it apparently continued flying so long without working transponders, has raised theories among investigators that the aircraft may have been commandeered for a reason that appears unclear to US authorities"

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Terrorists crashed it

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The theory involving terrorists gained momentum after two passengers on board MH370 were found to be travelling on stolen passports.

However, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said investigators had determined that one was a 19-year-old Iranian, Pouria Nourmohammadi Mehrdad who was planning to migrate to Germany.

Interpol identified the second man as a 29-year-old Iranian and released an image of the two boarding a plane at the same time. Interpol Secretary General Ronald K Noble said the two men travelled to Malaysia on their Iranian passports, then apparently switched to their stolen Austrian and Italian documents.

But terror angle has still not been ruled out.

Pilot David Learmount, who is operations and safety editor of Flight Global magazine, said: “Something happened and the pilots did not tell anyone. Why? It’s a good question. It’s extraordinary the pilots failed to call because they had plenty of time to. Unless there was a bomb on board but there has been no evidence of that.”

Other groups, however, have claimed responsibility over the last few days, including an unknown Chinese group. An email was sent to various journalists in China, saying: “You kill one of our clan, we will kill 100 of you as payback.”

But officials in Malaysia have said they believe the group's claim could be a hoax.

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Passengers' phones are still ringing

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Panic alarms went off when distraught family members heard a dial tone while trying to call their relatives onboard MH370.

Numerous media reports cited instances when phones taken on board the flight were still ringing four days after the plane's disappearance.

Reports suggest as many as 19 families managed to call phones of their missing loved ones, while the airline itself has got through to some of the missing crew's handsets.

And even more bizarrely, some social media sites have shown missing passengers as still being 'online' 

But experts are blaming phone networks and carriers for the panic.

"That does not mean the phone you are calling is ringing yet," wireless analyst Jeff Kagan told NBC News, adding, ""The network is searching for the phone. First based on where it last was, then it expands. Then if the network can't find the phone, the call terminates."

Apparently even if the phone in question is in airplane mode -- or is off or terminally broken -- it may still ring on the caller's end, despite there technically being no chance of it being connected.

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Photographs: Reuters

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The invisible aircraft

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Conspiracy theorists say terrorists could have cut the transponders, dropped below the radar and flown the plane to an isolated airport somewhere in Vietnam -- left over from the Vietnam War.

The plane had at least seven hours worth of fuel on board and this theory is supported by the lack of wreckage.

The theory goes further with the possibility the plane could have been ‘cloaked’, technology that uses a hexagonal array of glasslike panels to bend light around an object.

There are suggestions this theory could be linked to the 20 passengers on board who worked for Texas company Freescale.

Citizen news site, Beforeitsnews.com said: “It is conceivable that the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane is “cloaked,” hiding with hi-tech electronic warfare weaponry that exists and is used. In fact, this type of technology is precisely the expertise of Freescale, which has 20 employees on board the missing flight”.

However, Thomas Way, associate professor of computing science at VillanovaUniversity, told FoxNews.com: "Invisible to what? We already have stealth aircraft that are invisible to radar (usually), but there is absolutely no way given our current understanding of physics that something could be made invisible to the naked eye… If that’s what they are claiming, it's a hoax."

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Photographs: Reuters

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MH370 exploded mid-air

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Speculation that the Malaysia Airlines plane disintegrated in mid-flight has been flagged with a senior source saying the aircraft could have exploded due to mechanical issues.

"The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet (10,600 metres)," said a source involved in the investigations in Malaysia.

However, one aviation expert told the South China Morning Post that it was mysterious that even if the plane had disintegrated, debris had not detected on air traffic control radar.

The theory echoes the 2009 Air France tragedy when the plane disappeared over the Atlantic after it flew into turbulence on route to Paris.

It took five days for rescue teams to find the first bits of wreckage and another two years to find the bulk of the destroyed plane.

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In the jungles and waters of Vietnam

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Radar logs indicate the MH370 may have turned around in flight somewhere near the south of Vietnam while over the South China Sea, and authorities are investigating a possible wreckage object spotted near Vietnam’s southwestern tip.

However, civil aviation personnel have not specified if the cable reel found was part of the plane.

Others say the plane most likely crashed off the country’s Tho Chu Island.

On social media forum Reddit, posts from users claiming to be technical aviation experts say that the plane would have had enough fuel to travel up to 190km at 10,600 metres and so the search area could potentially be thousands of square kilometres wide.

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Pilot committed suicide

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While no evidence has emerged that captain of the MH 370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid may have committed suicide, the idea has been included in possible theories. 

Deliberate crashes caused by pilots were cited as possible reasons for incidents in the late 1990s.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Aliens kidnapped the plane!

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Some fringe theorists online have dug out the old faithful alien abduction theories.

Check out how Twitter reacted to the alien abduction angle.

@emmarut (March 11, 2014) Malaysian airlines plane missing for days!!... Aliens have started visiting earth my friends.

@smelton91 (March 11, 2014) Has anyone thought that maybe aliens stole the missing maylasian plane? #justsaying #MissingPlane #MalaysiaAirlines

@ShaunPhillips95 (March 11, 2014) Ok now let's be real how is this plane in Asia still missing. How does a plane even go missing. I'm thinking aliens or a hijacked plane.

@chowaing (March 11, 2014) Are aliens real?? Plane missing for more than five days and cannot be found in this techno-era???...God Save Us...

One of the more fantastic conspiracies is that it's all just a Hollywood promotional stunt for the remake of Lost.


Photographs: Reuters

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