What happened to Malaysia Air flight 370?
As the days pass with no credible word about where Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is or what happened to it, some speculation about the plane's fate has bordered on the bizarre.
Authorites are now looking at the possibility that the jet ended up somewhere near India.
Ships and aircraft from 12 countries are now hunting — on both sides of the Malaysian peninsula — for the Malaysia Airlines jet missing since Saturday, but authorities said the huge effort had found no physical trace of the plane by early Wednesday evening.
Officials also said that the last communication received from Flight 370 before it vanished appeared to indicate that everything on board was normal. "All right, roger that," someone on the plane replied to air traffic control, authorities said, according to a BBC report.
The search has been expanded from the South China Sea, on the east side of Malaysia, where the expected flight path ran, to the west side, the Straits of Malacca, after a military radar indicated a plane was flying there, 200 miles northwest of Penang, until the radar signal ended at 2:15 a.m. Saturday morning, said Malaysia air force chief Gen. Rodzali Daud. The data indicate a "possible turn back" from the expected flight path of Flight 370, he told an evening press briefing.
However, that aircraft, on the west side, may not be the missing flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, but was a strong enough lead for Malaysia to move additional search and rescue assets to the Straits of Malacca Wednesday, said Gen. Seri Zulkifli Mohdzin, Malaysia's chief of armed forces.
Authorities are working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board to confirm if the plane is the missing MH370, said Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. To pinpoint the plane's last location, U.S. experts will assist Malaysian officials in analyzing both civilian and military data, he said.
The last civilian radar data ended at 1:30 a.m., on the east side of the peninsula, said the country's civilian aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman. The physical search expanded Wednesday to both coasts and a total area of almost 27,000 square nautical miles, involving 42 ships and 39 aircraft, said Hishammuddin. The operation includes the USS Pinckney, USS Kidd and USNS John Ericsson, which are operating off the east side of the Malaysian peninsula.
Actually, given the size of the area they're looking, they could double the number of search and rescue planes and vessels and still have a very hard time spotting wreckage. But they can't narrow the search because they literally have no idea where the plane went.
Even if the plane disintegrated in mid-air - which seems to be the dominant theory at this point - the wreckage would be strewn over several square miles of ocean with much of the evidence already at the bottom. But there would still be plenty of debris floating in the water, including seats which are designed as floatation devices.
Meanwhile, the agony of the families of the missing continues as the Malaysian government sends out contradictory statements on the plane's fate and the local press repeats every rumor - no matter how bizarre - they hear.