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Malaysian flight MH370: Theories and how you can help the search (Updated)

Update 4/5/14: Chinese media claims that a "ping" could be heard by a Chinese search team. However, this is unconfirmed to be the black box of MH370. (Reuters)

Officials expand the search area for MH370.
Officials expand the search area for MH370.
Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Possible wreckage has been located in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Update 3/24/14: Although no closure has been given yet, families have been notified that "all lives were lost." The Malaysian Prime Minister made the announcement today after receiving intelligence given by a British satellite company. (CNN) Parts of the plane have possibly been located, but this is mere speculation at this point. No parts have been discovered yet.

Update 3/24/14: New evidence suggests that flight MH370 descended to 12,000 feet in a high-traffic flight zone. In addition, Malaysian officials have announced that some objects have been found by Chinese search teams in the Southern Indian Ocean and should be in their possession in a matter of hours. (CNN) While the fate of this flight is still unknown, what is known is that time is running out. If the plane did in fact crash, the black box will only send a signal for a total of 30 days.

Update 3/20/14: Possible wreckage has been found off the coast of Australia in the Southern Indian Ocean. The validation of the source of this wreckage is still unknown. Experts are speculating that it could be MH370 due to the size of the pieces seen on satellite. If this is in fact MH370, theories below that apply to a crash will still need to be investigated. (CNN) The latest speculations involve foul play by someone on board the flight.

What happened the evening of March 8th is simply unbelievable. Malaysian flight MH370 disappeared from the sky. Experts, media, and family members are left wondering what may have happened to loved ones, passengers, and crew aboard this ill-fated flight. Searches have been ongoing for over three days now, and still, no sign of any remnants of MH370. What happened to this flight? How can this disappearance be explained? Let’s explore the possible theories that are currently circling this dark and sad situation.

Theory 1: The plane exploded/detonated in flight due to either a bomb or rapid loss in pressure.

Why it’s plausible: Some types of explosions could cause the large pieces of the aircraft to dissipate and create very small matter.

Why it’s flawed: No signs of any sort of wreckage have been found so far. No matter what type of explosion may have occurred, it is highly likely that some parts or pieces of the aircraft would have been discovered by now. However, it is a possibility that those in search do not know where to look. (Reuters)

Theory 2: The plane lost altitude and crashed into the ocean.

Why it’s plausible: As we saw with the Air France crash, finding wreckage can be difficult, especially since the ocean is so vast. The aircraft could have crashed and dissipated somewhere that has not yet been searched.

Why it’s flawed: No kind of distress signal was given by the aircraft’s systems or crew, so chances that it went down in some sort of crash from a loss in altitude are quite small. Also, no sign of wreckage has been spotted in any of the surrounding waters.

Theory 3: The plane turned around and crashed over land.

Why it’s plausible: The latest radar experts believe that the final moments of the aircraft showing on radar show the aircraft making an attempt to turn around. In fact, the last known location was over the Strait of Malaca (The Telegraph). This could suggest that the aircraft may have made a crash landing over land.

Why it’s flawed: No radar picked up the aircraft over any land at all. No wreckage has been seen over land.

Theory 4: The aircraft suffered computer malfunctions and crashed.

Why it’s plausible: No communications or distress signals were sent before the aircraft’s disappearance.

Why it’s flawed: No wreckage has been found. Also, none of the aircrafts internal systems sent any correspondence of trouble.

Theory 5: The plane landed in a secret location and terrorists high jacked the aircraft and took control of the passengers.

Why it’s plausible: No wreckage has been found though searches have been conducted for over three days. Also, two stolen passports were used in order for two Iranian citizens to board the plane. While they have no known terrorist links, the fact that they used stolen passports signals that something was not right. (CNN) They used their own real passports to get to Malaysia- so why did they use stolen passports to board the flight? In addition, the aircraft disappeared from radar-this could suggest that the transponder tracking capabilities of the aircraft were disabled.

Why it’s flawed: The aircraft was very large. Without the cooperation of a large airport or a terrorist airport takeover, air traffic control would have reported the airplane landing in that location. While it is possible to land a jet in another location, it is also far more risky.

Theory 6: The pilot had ill-intentions for the flight and brought the plane down on purpose.

Why it's plausible: Flight simulator equipment was found in the home of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah. Investigators believed that he may have used this equipment to help him disable certain systems in the Boeing 777. (Financial Times)

Why it's flawed: No reason for such an action has been discovered. What motives would this pilot have had in killing himself and hundreds of people on the flight?

Theory 7: The aircraft veered too far off course and lost fuel causing it to crash.

Why it's plausible: GPS satellite tracking data show that the aircraft turned around or veered very far off course at some point during the flight (New Straight Times). If the instruments were not working correctly, it could have lead to pilot error in direction and speed, ultimately leading to a crash in the ocean.

Why it's flawed: Only speculations have been made about the aircraft veering off course from conflicting sources. The true location of the aircraft has still not been identified.

MH370 was a flight that disappeared one hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur and was headed for Beijing, China. The flight transported 227 passengers and 12 crew members and its fate and location is still unknown (The Guardian).

How you can help:

Humanitarians can help by searching for the plane and/or wreckage using satellites at (CNN).

Thoughts and prayers are flooding in from every walk of life for the fate of these passengers and their families.

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© 2014 Elana Nichols, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a

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