In Brief

MH370: mysterious 89kg load ‘added to cargo flight list after take-off’

Discovery by French investigators fuel theories that plane was hijacked by stowaway

French investigators probing the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have discovered that a 89g (14st) load was added to the cargo list after the plane took off, according to reports.

The claim comes from French engineer Ghyslain Wattrelos, whose wife and two teenage children were among 239 people on board the Beijing-bound flight when it vanished after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on 8 March 2014.

France is the only country still conducting a judicial inquiry into the crash, with two investigating magistrates looking into the deaths of Wattrelos' family.

Speaking to French newspaper Le Parisien, the 54-year-old engineer, who met the judges earlier this month, said: “It was learned that a mysterious load of 89kg had been added to the flight list after take-off.

“A container was also overloaded, without anyone knowing why. The expert draws no conclusion. It may be incompetence or manipulation. Everything is possible. This will be part of the questions for Malaysians.”

Wattrelos also said different versions of the flight’s passenger list do not match, reports The Sun.

There are many theories about what happened to the plane, with some pieces of aeroplane debris recovered off the coast of East Africa, but no traces of any of the passengers and flight crew.

Earlier this month, French investigators said that flight data “lends weight” to the theory that “someone was behind the control stick when the plane broke up in the Indian Ocean”.

The Daily Mirror suggests that the new claims about the extra cargo load adds “credibility to the theory the flight was hijacked by a stowaway”.

The search for the plane was called off last year. A long-awaited report from Malaysian investigators concluded that it was manually turned around in mid-air, rather than being on autopilot, and did not rule out “unlawful interference by a third party”.

However, the report did rule out mechanical failure and dismissed a pilot suicide mission.

Families of the victims have voiced disappointment over the findings, saying they offered no closure or answers to the mystery.

MH370: is missing Malaysia Airlines plane in Cambodian jungle?

10 September 2018

A Chinese technology company has been using satellites to explore a claim that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 crashed in a Cambodian jungle.

Ian Wilson, a digital video producer from the UK, believes he has spotted the plane on Google Maps.

The aircraft vanished four years ago, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 people on board in what has become one of the greatest aviation mysteries in history.

Wilson says the Google Maps object, which lies around 60 miles west of Phnom Penh, is close in size to the Boeing 777-200.

“I just thought I’d have a wander through. I work in digital video so I’m on Google Earth all the time,” he said.

“So I was on there - a few hours here, a few hours there. If you added it up I spent hours searching for places a plane could have gone down.”

Experts from Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co Ltd assembled ten satellites to zoom in on the high-altitude jungle but have found no sign of the plane.

Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Chinese newspaper Global Times that it would “take a professional search team on the ground to lay the claim to rest”.

Wilson hopes to visit the area himself.

However, the Aviation Safety Network suggests his find could just be a jet in the air caught by a Google Maps satellite.

Meanwhile, Sin Chansereyvutha, spokesman for Cambodia's State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, told Xinhua news agency: “First, there is not any evidence - information or data - to prove that it crashed in Cambodia.

“Second, if this news was true, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia would make a hotline call to us for cooperation, because in ASEAN we have a memorandum of understanding on cooperation and information sharing on search and rescue when there is a plane crash.

“But the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia has not contacted us on this issue, so we conclude that this is false news.”

Others have pointed out that Cambodia is 4,000 miles away from Reunion Island, where debris from the plane washed up, suggesting it went down in the Indian Ocean after all.

MH370 report: did ‘third party’ hackers down missing plane?

30 July 2018

Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was deliberately flown out into the Indian Ocean before disappearing – although why and by whom remains a mystery, a long-awaited report from the Malaysian government has concluded.

Speaking at a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on Monday, the government’s chief investigator Kok Soo Chon said: “We can conclude that MH370 had turned back and the turn back was not because of anomalies in the mechanical system. The turn back was made not under autopilot but under manual control.”

He was quick to dismiss two of the most popular conspiracy theories surrounding the plane’s disappearance, saying “we are not of the opinion it could have been an event committed by the pilots”, whilst also appearing to disprove accusations of mechanical failure.

He did, however, add that while the 600-page report did not contain any evidence to suggest that the plane was taken over remotely by hackers or terrorists, “we cannot exclude the possibility that there was unlawful interference by a third party.”

Speaking to The Australian, renowned Canadian air crash investigator Larry Vance said that, if a third party was found to be behind the crash, “the final sentence of this report should be a recommendation that a full criminal investigation be conducted to identify the perpetrator(s) and examine the potential motivation(s)”.

Flight MH370 vanished with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.

Its disappearance sparked one of the biggest search missions in history, but four years and hundreds of millions of dollars later it remains one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries, sparking countless conspiracy theories about its fate.

Today’s long-awaited findings – initially described as the “final report”, although investigators then backtracked from that description – “left the hopes of the families dashed after it failed to provide any concrete conclusions about the reasons the plane disappeared nor any indication where the wreckage might be”, says The Guardian.

It reiterates Malaysia’s assertion that the plane was deliberately diverted and flown for more than seven hours after severing communications. The Daily Mail reports that relatives who were briefed at the Transport Ministry before the report’s public release “expressed anger that there was nothing new in the document, with some storming out of the briefing as frustration boiled over”.

Despite parts of the wreckage being discovered as far north as the eastern coast of Tanzania and as far south as the eastern coast of South Africa, Chon told reporters: “The team is unable to determine the real cause for disappearance. The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found.”

He appeared to hand responsibility for the final answer to the mystery of MH370 over to the Australian government, which led the search and rescue operations. “As far as our team is concerned, we have done our job... We do not deal with search. Search is not our area. You have to ask the people responsible for the search. I can only answer your question relating to the investigation,” he said.

Last month, a private “no find, no fee” search was finally called off after US-seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity failed to find any sign of the plane in a 125,000sq/km area identified as its most likely resting place by experts.

Malaysia’s new government, which took power in May, has said the hunt could be resumed but only if new evidence comes to light. Officials seem keen to draw a line under the tragedy.

Will MH370’s disappearance forever remain a mystery?

29 May

The fate of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 looks set to remain a mystery, after the four-year multi-million dollar search finally came to an end today with the plane's whereabouts still unknown.

In March 2014, 239 people on board the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished in what has become the greatest mystery in aviation history.

The disappearance sparked one of the biggest and most expensive search operations of all time as well as countless conspiracy theories.

A three-year $151m (£115m) search by Malaysian, Australian and Chinese investigators was called off in January 2017 after failing to find any sign of the plane or debris over a 120,000 square-mile area in the Indian Ocean, thought to be the most likely final resting place of MH370.

Then in January this year, under pressure from relatives, the Malaysian government signed a $70m (£52m) 90-day ‘no find, no fee’ deal with US private seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity to explore a 9,650 square-mile zone north of the original search area.

At the time Malaysian officials said there was an 85% chance of success, but as the search has gone on with still no sign of the plane, expectation has slowly turned to disappointment.

Ocean Infinity’s primary vessel, Seabed Explorer, found nothing in the initial search area and has since extended its activities to cover over 33,300 square miles of seabed in the southern Indian Ocean.

But with worsening weather making any continued search impossible, Ocean Infinity’s gamble has failed to pay off, leaving the families of those on board searching for answers about what happened.

Danica Weeks, an Australian who lost her husband on the flight, called on her country's foreign minister Julie Bishop to urge Malaysia's new government to be more transparent about what it knows of the disappearance.

Voice 370, a lobby group made up of MH370 families, have called on the Malaysian government to release the plane’s full cargo manifest, arguing that the flight was carrying more than two tonnes worth of cargo which has never been fully identified.

The New Zealand Herald says the mystery cargo “was the focus of early conspiracy theories relating to MH370's disappearance thanks to a decision by Malaysian authorities not to immediately disclose that the plane had a been carrying a large quantity of potentially flammable lithium batteries”.

Malaysian transport minister Anthony Loke says a full report into the plane’s disappearance will be published in the future but has so far not given a date.

Australian, Malaysian and Chinese authorities have all agreed that an official search would not resume unless credible evidence emerged on the plane’s location.

However, in one ray of light for relatives, Anwar Ibrahim, who is widely tipped to become Malaysia's prime minister, told The Australian newspaper there was “further digging” to be done.

In the long-term, “a project to map the ocean floor may also offer answers”, says the BBC.

Until then though, it appears the plane’s disappearance will remain a mystery and continue to be a favourite topic for conspiracists for years to come.

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