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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was a scheduled passenger flight which departed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China on March 8th, 2014, before disappearing off radar with a total of 239 people on board, including 12 crew members, less than an hour after the take-off.
On March 8th, 2014, 12:41 a.m. local time, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing, China, carrying 227 passengers of 13 nationalities, including 153 Chinese nationals, and 12 Malaysian crew members. At around 1:30 a.m., less than an hour into the flight, air traffic controllers in Kuala Lumpur reported that they lost contact with the plane after the transponder signal went offline over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.
image courtesy: CNN | Google Maps
According to the officials, there were no indications of bad weather, technical problems or a distress signal from the crew at the time of its disappearance. The trip was expected to last about six hours over the distance of 2,700 miles (4,350 kilometers).
Search and Rescue Mission
By 7:24 a.m., about an hour after the flight’s scheduled arrival time at the Beijing International Airport, Malaysia Airlines had issued a statement confirming that the plane is considered lost and a search-and-rescue operation is underway. In responding to the crisis, the Malaysian government and fourteen other nations dispatched dozens ships and planes to the area. In the following days, numerous sightings of potential plane debris and oil slicks were reported, but upon examination, they were determined to be insubstantial.
Meanwhile on Twitter, people reacted to the news with messages of prayers and wishes for the passengers using hashtags #PrayForMH370 and #MH370, peaking at 800,000 and 1.2 million tweets per day on March 8th. On Reddit, Redditor Mrgandaw began compiling the latest updates and official announcements in a series of posts titled “Comprehensive timeline: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370” on /r/news.
On March 12th, Colorado-based commercial satellite firm DigitalGlobe launched an online crowd-search mission where anyone can scour through aerial photographs of the region covering 1,235 square miles to look for signs of potential survivors, rafts or plane debris that would lead to any clues surrounding the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance. Shortly after its launch, the website reportedly became inaccessible as a result of a sudden and massive spike in traffic.
Hoaxes and Theories
As the search mission continued for several days with little result, online discussions about the flight ran amok with unfounded theories surrounding its whereabouts and fate, including references to the ABC drama series Lost and the Bermuda triangle, as well as conspiracy theories involving aliens, Edward Snowden, the Iranians and the North Koreans and even the Illuminati.
Safe Landing Rumor
Shortly after the search mission began, various rumors about the fate of the passengers began to spread online in China, including a news article saying the plane had made a safe emergency landing in Nanning and mass speculations that passengers may have survived as indicated by their active cell phone signal and online status on instant messaging services.
The Bermuda Triangle
As early as on March 14th, a photograph of a submerged aircraft began circulating on Facebook, falsely described as the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 found in the Bermuda Triangle, a loosely defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean that has garnered notoriety after a number of aircraft and ships disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Video of Malaysia MH370 Plane found in Bermuda Triangle! Passengers alive! insidevideo.net Breaking news video footage of this miracle just released on CNN!
Chris Goodfellow’s Electrical Fire Theory
On March 14th, Canadian veteran commercial pilot Chris Goodfellow shared a relatively simple and plausible explanation as to why the missing plane took a sharp turn before going offline on his Google+ page. According to Goodfellow, MH370 may have turned in order to make an emergency landing at the Palau Kangkawi airport in the crisis of an irrecuperable electrical problem or a cabin fire, which would also explain the unusual shutdown of the plane’s transponders and tracking equipments. Goodfellow’s theory quickly gained favor on Google+, garnering more than 3,800 +1s and 2,400 shares, before getting picked up by numerous tech blogs and U.S. news outlets.
Courtney Love’s Suspicion
On March 16th, Tomnod posted a Facebook status update showing a satellite image of an object that appears to be floating in the zone identified as #128148, along with a note that the analysis team has preliminarily concluded that it is more likely to be a boat than plane debris. On the next day, American singer-songwriter Courtney Love posted an annotated version of the same image with a link to the Tomnod map of the zone to her Facebook timeline, adding that she suspects this is where the plane may be. Love’s Facebook post subsequently went viral in the blogosphere, racking up more than 15,000 likes and 13,000 shares, while even spawning a few parodies.
I’m no expert but up close this does look like a plane and an oil slick. link … prayers go out to the families #MH370 and its like a mile away Pulau Perak, where they “last” tracked it 5°39’08.5"N 98°50’38.0"E but what do I know?
Malaysia Airlines “Lose Yourself” Ad Hoax
On March 16th, an alleged full-page advertisement for Malaysia Airlines with foreshadowing tag lines like “lose yourself on a journey of epic proportions” and “where you go / no one will ever know” began circulating on Twitter.