On Saturday March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines lost contact with Flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200 aircraft carrying 239 people on its way to Beijing.
On Monday authorities are no closer to finding out what happened to the vanished aircraft. With no physical evidence to work with, authorities investigating the disappearance are left scratching their heads over the fate of the flight, but have not ruled out all possibilities.
Terrorism? Crash due to mechanical malfunction? Hijacking?
But with little information gathered, it looks like the aircraft vanished in thin air at an altitude of 35,000 feet over the South China Sea. The real answers, it seems, are slow to come.
Authorities are continuing their investigation but here’s what we do know about the disappearance of Flight MH370.
- Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was two hours into its flight when Subang Air Traffic Control lost contact at 2:40 a.m. local time (1:40 p.m. Friday ET). It was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. local time.
- There were 239 people aboard the aircraft — 227 passengers and 12 crew members.
- The passengers are from 14 countries — 153 from China, 38 from Malaysia, seven from Indonesia, six from Australia, five from India, three from France, two each from New Zealand, Ukraine and Canada and sole travelers from Russia, Italy, Taiwan, Austria and the Netherlands. There were also three Americans on the flight.
- At the time of the disappearance, there was no severe weather. There were also no distress calls coming from the aircraft.
- The aircraft was inspected 10 days ago and found to be in proper condition. It is an 11-year-old jet.
- In response, Malaysia sent nine planes and 15 ships to search the waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.
- The Philippines dispatched three Navy ships and a surveillance plane.
- China sent an additional two ships.
- The U.S. Navy also sent the USS Pinckney, a guided missile destroyer that carries two MH-60R helicopters, and a P-3C Orion with long-range search, radar and communications capabilities.
- On Sunday oil slicks (each six to nine miles long), were spotted by rescue teams in the South China Sea. Malaysian maritime officials sent a sample to a lab to see if the oil came from the aircraft. On Monday the samples came back negative.
- A yellow item floating in the sea, believed to be a life raft from the plane, turned out to be a moss-covered cap of a cable reel instead. It did not belong to the plane.
- Officials are searching for a rectangle object that may be the planes door, but have come up empty-handed.
- Malaysia’s air force chief, Rodzali Daud, said radar suggested the flight may have tried to turn around to go back to the airport. Authorities have not been able to confirm.
- Malaysian authorities have confirmed that two passengers boarded the flight using stolen passports. They have been able to identify one of the men.
- The passports belonged to Austrian Christian Kozel and Luigi Maraldi of Italy.
- The passengers using the stolen passports purchased their tickets together. Electronic booking records show that one-way flight tickets with those names were issued Thursday from a travel agency in the beach resort of Pattaya in eastern Thailand.
- A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline confirmed the two passengers, who go by the names of Maraldi and Kozel, also bought one-way tickets on a KLM flight that departed from Beijing for Amsterdam on Saturday.
- Authorities are still working to the true identities of those who used the stolen passports to board the flight.
- It was also revealed that luggage from at least five passengers was taken off board before it departed.
- Authorities say when the plane is located the airline will set up a command center either in Malaysia’s Kota Bharu, or in Vietnam, depending on its location. A response control center will be activated as close as possible to the incident area.
- Two family members for each missing passenger will be sent to Kuala Lumpur, or another destination if closer to the plane’s location
- Malaysia Airlines is working with Chinese authorities to get passports for relatives in need of one.
- Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Juahari Yahya said that the company is working with emergency responders. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.”
We’ll keep you updated with the latest in this bizarre and tragic case.
SOURCE: CBS, Fox, AP | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Screengrab