Missing Malaysia plane: fact and fiction

(WXYZ) - With new leads that someone may have systematically shut off the communications systems on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, several theories are being investigated in the hopes of finding some trace of the jumbo jet.

CNN and ABC News have both been reporting that US Officials believe the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean.  CNN reports that two new areas are the focus of the massive search: the Bay of Bengal (northwest of Malaysia) and a portion of the Indian Ocean that is southwest of the Indonesian Island of Sumatra.

Two new clues could indicate someone deliberately took Malaysia Airlines flight 370 hundreds of miles off course.

Just 26 minutes after the flight took off from Kuala Lumpur early last Saturday morning, at 1:07 am the final data transmission was made from the cockpit.  Fourteen minutes later at 1:21am the transponder that communicates with radar on the ground is turned off.

Sources tell ABC News that appears to be a “systematic shutdown” by someone who knew how to fly.

“It could have been done intentionally, under duress, because of an explosion.  I do not want to go into speculation,” said Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian Transport Minister.

That information combined with the pings that the plane’s engines were sending to satellites indicates the 239 passengers and crew could have been purposely flown off course on a known flight path to either the Middle East or Europe.

The pings lasted for four hours, which means the Boeing triple 7 could be 2400 miles from Malaysia. 
That’s why Navy destroyers and helicopters are now focusing on the Indian Ocean.

So what are the possibilities?

U. S. officials say this new data indicates foul play.  One theory:  turning off the communications systems was part of an “act of piracy.”

Did a hijacker or a pilot bent on sabotage land the plane somewhere?  Indian authorities own the airstrips in the Andaman Islands and that jumbo jet needs a hefty runway to land.  But a senior U. S. military official told ABC news that they had not ruled out that the plane could have been flown to a secret site to be used later for “nefarious purposes.”

A catastrophic event, such as an explosion, likely would have shut the communications systems off at the same time.  On Friday Chinese researchers said they recorded a “seismic seafloor event” in the waters near Malaysia and Vietnam the same day the flight vanished.  U. S. scientists are now saying that was earthquake activity, not a crash landing.

Another U. S. official told CNN that “there is a probably a significant likelihood” the plane is on the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

“We want nothing more than to find the plane as quickly as possible, but the circumstances have forced us to widen our search,” said Hussein.

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