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Disappearance of flight MH370: after ten years of twists and turns, the mystery remains unsolved

It is one of the greatest mysteries in the history of civil aviation.

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Disappearance of flight MH370: after ten years of twists and turns, the mystery remains unsolved

It is one of the greatest mysteries in the history of civil aviation. And theories from the most serious to the most outlandish have been rife for ten years to explain the disappearance of flight MH370. The hypotheses favored by investigators are, however, fewer in number. On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777, disappeared from the screens with its 239 passengers while connecting Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

In January 2017, the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese governments decided to suspend official underwater searches, the authorities having judged that the wreck was probably not located in the 120,000 km2 search zone. Ten years later, Malaysia said it was open on Monday to the possibility of relaunching research. Le Figaro draws up a chronology of events since the disappearance of the plane.

On March 8, 2014, the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur a little after midnight with 227 passengers on board - including four French people - and 12 crew members. Thirty-eight minutes after takeoff, the aircraft left Malaysian airspace and its captain sent a final radio communication: “Good night, Malaysia 370.” Communications were then cut and the plane disappeared from Vietnamese radar screens.

Also read: Flight MH370 crash: “After seventeen months, the suffering remains intact”

At Beijing airport, the flight is announced “delayed” before the screens indicate “cancelled”. The company announced the disappearance of the plane an hour after its theoretical arrival time in Beijing.

Vietnam and Malaysia then launched search operations by dispatching planes and ships to the place of the disappearance. Two parallel fuel trails of 15 to 20 kilometers in the South China Sea have been spotted. But the device remains untraceable. The authorities quickly announced that the plane, flying towards Beijing, had turned around. The search area is extended. Two search arcs are favored but the one heading north is quickly ruled out: if the plane had flown over the Asian continent, it would have already been spotted.

The presence of two Iranians with stolen European passports first directs suspicion towards a terrorist trail before this is ruled out. At the same time, a preliminary investigation for “involuntary homicides” was opened in France on March 11, a usual procedure when there are French victims.

A week after the disappearance, the Malaysian Prime Minister announced that the change in flight trajectory was the result of “a deliberate action”. He also announces that the plane flew for at least six hours after his last communication.

The British satellite Inmarsat in fact received seven “pings”, time signals transmitted every hour, after the transponder, the device which allows an aircraft to be located, was cut off.

Before a new statement from the Malaysian Prime Minister on the progress of the investigation, Malaysia Airlines announced by SMS to the relatives of the 239 passengers that “all evidence suggests” that the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. “Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets to announce that it must be considered, in all likelihood, that flight MH370 was lost and that none of the occupants survived,” the company also announces. The research focuses on detecting a signal from the plane's black box which theoretically emits a signal, even on the ocean floor, for at least 30 days.

Almost eleven months after the disappearance of the flight, the director of Malaysian civil aviation declares that flight MH370 was the victim of an “accident”. “It is with a very heavy heart and deep sorrow that we officially declare, on behalf of the Government of Malaysia, that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was involved in an accident. All occupants are presumed dead.”

The term “accident” offends certain relatives of the victims who denounce what was left unsaid and the elements of the investigation which do not allow any particular option to be adopted.

After a complaint filed by the family of Frenchman Ghyslain Wattrelos whose wife and two children were on the plane, the investigation was reclassified as “aircraft hijacking leading to the death of one or more people of French nationality, in relationship with a terrorist company. Three judges from the Paris High Court have been appointed to work on the case.

Putting an end to the last hopes of relatives who refused to believe in the hypothesis of a crash in the ocean, debris from the plane was found in Reunion. This is a piece of flaperon, a wing tip, which belonged to the Boeing 777. The debris is analyzed in Toulouse. French investigating judges cite “strong presumptions” of belonging to flight MH370. Later, the prosecution confirmed this time “with certainty”.

In the months that followed, several other pieces of debris were found on the coasts of East Africa, in Mozambique, on Mauritius, in Tanzania and in Madagascar. The study of the debris confirms a crash at sea.

The search area having been completely searched, the search is officially stopped. The operations cost a total of nearly 160 million euros. Malaysia nevertheless relaunched research in October of the same year with a private company.

The Malaysian pilot's simulator was seized and analyzed by the FBI, which revealed the last six trips taken and which had been deleted. One of the deleted routes resumes a flight plan with a takeoff from Kuala Lumpur then a diversion to go towards the south of the Indian Ocean, taking a route similar to that presumed of MH370. So the pilot practiced flying until he ran out of fuel.

The husband and father of a bereaved family publishes a book in which he recounts the four years since the disappearance of the plane, and his fight to know the truth. “I feel like I did everything I could. Now I hope someone will speak. There are people who know. I am not in a spirit of revenge but I need to understand,” he says in particular.

The Malaysian authorities published an investigation report in the summer of 2018 which provided few answers, more than four years after the disaster. “We cannot determine a certain cause of the plane's entertainment and investigators are unable to determine the real reason for the disappearance of the plane,” Kok Soo Chon, the investigator in charge, announced at a press conference. responsible for investigations. The terrorist trail, as well as the pilot's responsibility or remote hijacking, are not favored.

Only one certainty, stated some time later by the French investigators: the plane was flown until the end. He carefully avoided radars and made slight trajectory adjustments until the end. The theory of suicide is put forward by French investigators, despite the pilot's profile which does not correspond with it, and the denials of his family.

A documentary series in three episodes is unveiled on Netflix, on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the disaster. The series is designed as a treasure hunt, which begins with the inconsistencies and contradictions of the Malaysian authorities, then puts forward several hypotheses, sometimes leaving the viewer confused.

Also read: Florence de Changy: “The official version on flight MH370 does not hold up”

In particular, she exposes a theory according to which the plane was hijacked by three Russians to be taken to Kazakhstan. Another theory evoked by the documentary is that of the journalist collaborating with Le Monde Florence Changy who advances in a book that the plane would never have turned around towards the Indian Ocean. It was reportedly intercepted by the United States because it was carrying secret cargo to China. More precisely, an ultra-sensitive American weapon that the Chinese regime should not have in its possession. American Awacs planes then allegedly jammed the radar signals to hide the interception.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said Monday he would be "happy to restart" the search for Flight MH370 if there was "convincing" evidence. “This is an issue that affects people’s lives and everything that needs to be done must be done,” said Anwar Ibrahim.

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