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Monday, 30 July 2018

MH370 investigators say they cannot rule out hijacking as 400-page report reveals doomed passenger jet was likely diverted from its flight path deliberately - as angry relatives say they've failed to provide answers

Investigators probing the MH370 mystery today said they cannot rule out the possibility it was hijacked as they released a 400-page report into the disappearance of the doomed flight.
Officials said the plane, which went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 with 239 on board had diverted from its flight path manually rather than due to a mechanical fault while 'interference by a third party' could not be excluded. 
But angry families of those on board remain without definitive answers to one of aviation's greatest mysteries after experts said they are still unable to say why exactly the Boeing 777 disappeared. 
Years of investigations have found no firm evidence as to what happened to the Malaysia Airlines plane.
This morning, families of missing passengers said the Malaysian government's final report on the aircraft had no new findings and officials said they were 'unable to determine the real reason for the disappearance'.
But while finding the plane was airworthy and the pilots were in a fit state to fly, the report did highlight mistakes and protocols and guidelines that were not followed, the families told reporters after a briefing on the report.
Investigators say they 'cannot exclude the possibility that there was unlawful interference by a third party' as they released a key report into the the mystery of doomed flight MH370. Sarah Nor (centre), the mother of Norliakmar Hamid, a passenger on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, break down in tears at the Ministry of Transport headquarters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, today
Investigators say they 'cannot exclude the possibility that there was unlawful interference by a third party' as they released a key report into the the mystery of doomed flight MH370. Sarah Nor (centre), the mother of Norliakmar Hamid, a passenger on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, break down in tears at the Ministry of Transport headquarters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, today
Lead investigator Kok Soo Chon (pictured today) said this morning that the probe had confirmed the plane had turned back under manual control and that 'we cannot exclude the possibility that there was unlawful interference by a third party'
Lead investigator Kok Soo Chon (pictured today) said this morning that the probe had confirmed the plane had turned back under manual control and that 'we cannot exclude the possibility that there was unlawful interference by a third party'
Pieces of debris have been found as far away as La Reunion (pictured), but the main body of the plane has still not been located
Pieces of debris have been found as far away as La Reunion (pictured), but the main body of the plane has still not been located
Lead investigator Kok Soo Chon said this morning that the probe had confirmed the plane had turned back under manual control and that 'we cannot exclude the possibility that there was unlawful interference by a third party.' 
He said this morning: '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.'
However, the team was unable to say why exactly the plane had strayed off its path and disappeared.

Lithium battery and mangosteen theory 'highly improbable'

The report revealed fresh details about a huge haul of batteries and fruit carried in the hold of flight MH370.
A consignment of about 487 lbs of lithium ion batteries was being transported on the plane as part of a Motorola shipment, the report said.
According to the Mirror, the report said the 7.4-volt batteries were too big to fit through airport x-ray machines in Kuala Lumpur on the day of the flight - but that the they met all necessary safety standards.
It was only months after the plane's disappearance that bigger scanners were brought in, the report said. 
The plane was also carrying more than 10,000 lbs of mangosteens and there was speculation that extracts from the fruit may have reacted with the batteries and sparked a fire or produced dangerous fumes.
But the report appeared to play down this theory.
'There were concerns that the mangosteen extracts could have got into contact with the batteries and produced hazardous fumes or in a worst case scenario caused a short circuit and/or fire,' the report said, according to The Mirror
'This was highly improbable on board MH370 with a comparatively short flight duration and under controlled conditions.
'After carrying out the tests, STRIDE (Science and Technology Research Institute for Defence) was convinced that the two items tested could not be the cause in the disappearance of MH370.'
Kok said: 'We cannot determine with any certainty the reason the plane diverted from its planned route. The team is unable to determine the real reason for the disappearance.'
'The answer can only be conclusive if the wreckage is found,' he said when asked of they would ever find out what happened on the plane. 
The report reiterated Malaysia's assertion that the plane was deliberately diverted and flown for more than seven hours after severing communications. 
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.
'It is so disappointing,' said Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband was a steward on MH370. 'I am frustrated. There is nothing new in the report.
'Those who gave the briefing from the ministry of transport were not able to give answers as they were not (the ones) who wrote the report.'
She said the meeting between relatives and officials descended into a 'shouting match' as family members' frustration boiled over.
'Many asked questions,' said G. Subramaniam, who lost a son on the flight, but added that 'unsatisfactory responses left many angry'.  
One area that came in for criticism in the report by the 19-member investigation team, which included foreign investigators, was air traffic control.
It said both Malaysian air traffic control and their Vietnamese counterparts failed to act properly when the Boeing jet passed from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace and disappeared from radars.
Air traffic controllers did not initiate emergency procedures in a timely fashion, delaying the start of the search and rescue operation, it said.
However it played down concerns about the pilot and first officer, saying neither appeared to have suffered difficulties in their personal lives that could have affected their ability to fly.
It also said the plane was airworthy and did not have major technical issues. This however meant that the plane's change of course 'was likely made while the aircraft was under manual control and not the autopilot', the report said.
Intervention by a third party could not be ruled out, it said, but also added there was no evidence to suggest the plane was flown by anyone other than the pilots.
The report also dismissed one conspiracy theory about the plane's disappearance - that it was taken over remotely to foil a hijacking, saying there was no evidence to support this.
The report reiterated Malaysia's assertion that the plane was deliberately diverted and flown for more than seven hours after severing communications
The report reiterated Malaysia's assertion that the plane was deliberately diverted and flown for more than seven hours after severing communications
This morning, families of passengers said the report (pictured) had no new findings on the reason for the plane's mysterious disappearance
This morning, families of passengers said the report (pictured) had no new findings on the reason for the plane's mysterious disappearance
Grace Subathirai Nathan (centre), daughter of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 passenger Anne Daisy, speaks during a press conference after being presented with the final investigation report on the missing flight, in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur, today
Grace Subathirai Nathan (centre), daughter of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 passenger Anne Daisy, speaks during a press conference after being presented with the final investigation report on the missing flight, in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur, today
Experts believe someone may have deliberately switched off MH370's transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean.
The last communication from the plane was from the Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah who signed off with 'Good night, Malaysian three seven zero', as the plane left the Malaysian airspace.
A 440-page final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) last year showed that Zaharie had flown a route on his home flight simulator six weeks earlier that was 'initially similar' to the one actually taken by MH370.
A forensic report by the Malaysian police previously concluded that there were no unusual activities other than game-related flight simulations.
Kok said the investigators examined the history of the pilot and the first officer, and they were satisfied with their background and training and mental health.
'We are not of the opinion it could have been an event committed by the pilots,' he said, but added they were not ruling out any possibility since the in-air turn back was done manually and the systems in the plane were also manually turned off.
'We cannot exclude that there was an unlawful interference by a third party,' Kok said.
He added all the passengers of the 15 countries had their backgrounds checked by their respective countries and all came back with a clean bill of health.
Voice 370, a group representing the relatives, has previously urged the Malaysian government for a review of the flight, including 'any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance'.
The report also dismissed one conspiracy theory about the plane's disappearance - that it was taken over remotely to foil a hijacking, saying there was no evidence to support this 
The report also dismissed one conspiracy theory about the plane's disappearance - that it was taken over remotely to foil a hijacking, saying there was no evidence to support this 
Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon 
Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon 
The families said the report pointed to mistakes by the Malaysian air traffic control (ATC) centre. It showed there were only two attempted phone calls made to the aircraft from the ground, four to five hours apart.
The Malaysian Minister of Transport Anthony Loke had earlier said the report would be released on Monday after families of those on board were briefed. 
'Every word recorded by the investigation team will be tabled in this report,' he said.
'It will be tabled fully, without any editing, additions or redactions.'
More than four years after the aircraft vanished on March 8, 2014, investigators have had little luck in finding the wreckage of the plane that vanished with 227 passengers on-board, plus the captain, co-pilot and 10 crew. 
Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon. 
Malaysia's new government, which took power in May, has said the hunt could be resumed but only if new evidence comes to light and officials have seemed keen to draw under a line the tragedy. 
Captain Shah, who was going through a marriage breakup, is believed to have downed the aircraft in an act of murder-suicide, by diverting from the flight path and plunging into the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia.
The four-year search for MH370 ended in May after the US-based technology firm Ocean Infinity failed to locate the plane while canvassing 125,000sq/km of the Indian Ocean.
Malaysia had signed a 'no find, no fee' deal with Ocean Infinity to resume the hunt for the plane after the official search led by Australia, Malaysia and China was called off in early 2017. 
Several theories have emerged about how the plane disappeared, with some suggesting the plane was hijacked and others believing someone on board may have deliberately turned off the plane's transponder before diverting it over the Indian Ocean.  

WHAT HAPPENED TO MH370? SOME OF THE THEORIES INTO THE MYSTERY EXAMINED

Zaharie Ahmad Shah (pictured) was the pilot of the doomed flight
Zaharie Ahmad Shah (pictured) was the pilot of the doomed flight
DID THE PILOT HIJACK HIS OWN PLANE? 
Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah planned mass murder because of personal problems, locking his co-pilot out of the cockpit, closing down all communications, depressurising the main cabin and then disabling the aircraft so that it continued flying on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel.
That was the popular theory in the weeks after the plane's disappearance. 
His personal problems, rumours in Kuala Lumpur said, included a split with his wife Fizah Khan, and his fury that a relative, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, had been given a five-year jail sentence for sodomy shortly before he boarded the plane for the flight to Beijing.
But the pilot's wife angrily denied any personal problems and other family members and his friends said he was a devoted family man and loved his job.
This theory was also the conclusion of the first independent study into the disaster by the New Zealand-based air accident investigator, Ewan Wilson.
Wilson, the founder of Kiwi Airlines and a commercial pilot himself, arrived at the shocking conclusion after considering 'every conceivable alternative scenario'.
However, he has not been able to provide any conclusive evidence to support his theory.
The claims are made in the book 'Goodnight Malaysian 370', which Wilson co-wrote with the New Zealand broadsheet journalist, Geoff Taylor.
It's also been rumoured that Zaharie used a flight simulator at his home to plot a path to a remote island.
However, officials in Kuala Lumpur declared that Malaysian police and the FBI's technical experts had found nothing to suggest he was planning to hijack the flight after closely examining his flight simulator. 
And there are also theories that the tragic disappearance may have been a heroic act of sacrifice by the pilot.
Australian aviation enthusiast Michael Gilbert believes the doomed plane caught fire mid-flight, forcing the pilot to plot a course away from heavily populated areas. 
IF NOT THE PILOT, WAS THE CO-PILOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MYSTERY?
Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, again for personal problems, was suspected by rumour-spreaders to have overpowered the pilot and disabled the aircraft, flying it to its doom with crew and passengers unable to get through the locked cockpit door.
Theorists have put forward the suggestion that he was having relationship problems and this was his dramatic way of taking his own life.
But he was engaged to be married to Captain Nadira Ramli, 26, a fellow pilot from another airline, and loved his job. There are no known reasons for him to have taken any fatal action.

There have been a series of outlandish theories about the disappearance of the plane
Others have suggested that because he was known to have occasionally invited young women into the cockpit during a flight, he had done so this time and something had gone wrong.
Young Jonti Roos said in March that she spent an entire flight in 2011 in the cockpit being entertained by Hamid, who was smoking.
Interest in the co-pilot was renewed when it was revealed he was the last person to communicate from the cockpit after the communication system was cut off. 
DID THE RUSSIANS STEAL MH370 AND FLY THE JET TO KAZAKHSTAN
An expert has claimed the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was hijacked on the orders of Vladimir Putin and secretly landed in Kazakhstan.
Jeff Wise, a U.S. science writer who spearheaded CNN's coverage of the Boeing 777-200E, has based his outlandish theory on pings that the plane gave off for seven hours after it went missing, that were recorded by British telecommunications company Inmarsat.
Wise believes that hijackers 'spoofed' the plane's navigation data to make it seem like it went in another direction, but flew it to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is leased from Kazakhstan by Russia.
However, Wise admits in New York Magazine that he does not know why Vladimir Putin would want to steal a plane full of people and that his idea is somewhat 'crazy'.
Wise also noted there were three Russian men onboard the flight, two of them Ukrainian passport holders.
Aviation disaster experts analysed satellite data and discovered - like the data recorded by Inmarsat - that the plane flew on for hours after losing contact.
Careful examination of the evidence has revealed that MH370 made three turns after the last radio call, first a turn to the left, then two more, taking the plane west, then south towards Antarctica.
MH370 WAS USED BY TERRORISTS FOR A SUICIDE ATTACK ON THE CHINESE NAVY
This extraordinary claim came from 41-year-old British yachtsman Katherine Tee, from Liverpool, whose initial account of seeing what she thought was a burning plane in the night sky made headlines around the world.
On arrival in Thailand's Phuket after sailing across the Indian Ocean from Cochin, southern India with her husband, she said: 'I could see the outline of the plane - it looked longer than planes usually do.There was what appeared to be black smoke streaming from behind.'
Ms Tee's general description of the time and place was vague and she lost all credibility when she later stated on her blog that she believed MH370 was a kamikaze plane that was aimed at a flotilla of Chinese ships and it was shot down before it could smash into the vessels.
Without solid proof of the satellite data, she wrote on her blog, Saucy Sailoress, the plane she saw was flying at low altitude towards the military convoy she and her husband had seen on recent nights. She added that internet research showed a Chinese flotilla was in the area at the time.
While the debris proved the plane went down in the Indian Ocean, the location of the main underwater wreckage — and its crucial black box data recorders — remains stubbornly elusive. 
While the debris proved the plane went down in the Indian Ocean, the location of the main underwater wreckage — and its crucial black box data recorders — remains stubbornly elusive. 
THE JET LANDED ON THE WATER AND WAS SEEN FLOATING ON THE ANDAMAN SEA  
On a flight from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur that crossed over the Andaman Sea on March 8, Malaysian woman Raja Dalelah, 53, saw what she believed was a plane sitting on the water's surface.
She didn't know about the search that had been started for MH370. She alerted a stewardess who told her to go back to sleep.
'I was shocked to see what looked like the tail and wing of an aircraft on the water,' she said.
It was only when she told her friends on landing in Kuala Lumpur what she had seen that she learned of the missing jet. She had seen the object at about 2.30pm Malaysian time.
She said she had been able to identify several ships and islands before noticing the silver object that she said was a plane.
But her story was laughed off by pilots who said it would have been impossible to have seen part of an aircraft in the water from 35,000ft or seven miles.
Ms Raja filed an official report with police the same day and has kept to her story.
'I know what I saw,' she said.
THE AIRCRAFT SUFFERED A CATASTROPHIC SYSTEMS FAILURE AND CRASH-LANDED ON THE OCEAN
A catastrophic event such as a fire disabling much of the equipment resulted in the pilots turning the plane back towards the Malaysian peninsula in the hope of landing at the nearest airport.
Satellite data, believable or not, suggests the aircraft did make a turn and theorists say there would be no reason for the pilots to change course unless confronted with an emergency.
A fire in a similar Boeing 777 jet parked at Cairo airport in 2011 was found to have been caused by a problem with the first officer's oxygen mask supply tubing.
Stewarts Law, which has litigated in a series of recent air disasters, believes the plane crashed after a fire - similar to the blaze on the Cairo airport runway - broke out in the cockpit.
After an investigation into the Cairo blaze, Egypt's Aircraft Accident Investigation Central Directorate (EAAICD) released their final report which revealed that the fire originated near the first officer's oxygen mask supply tubing.
The cause of the fire could not be conclusively determined, but investigators pinpointed a problem with the cockpit hose used to provide oxygen for the crew in the event of decompression.
Following the 2011 fire, US aircraft owners were instructed to replace the system - it was estimated to cost $2,596 (£1,573) per aircraft. It was not known whether Malaysia Airlines had carried out the change.
If either pilot wanted to crash the plane, why turn it around? So the turn-around suggests they were trying to land as soon as possible because of an emergency.
THE US SHOT DOWN THE AIRCRAFT FEARING A TERROR ATTACK ON DIEGO GARCIA  
The Boeing 777 was shot down by the Americans who feared the aircraft had been hijacked and was about to be used to attack the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian Ocean. So conspiracy theorists claim.
And former French airline director Marc Dugain said he had been warned by British intelligence that he was taking risks by investigating this angle.
There is no way of checking whether Dugain received such a warning or why he believes the Americans shot down the plane.
But adding to the theory that the aircraft was flown to Diego Garcia, either by the pilot Zaharie or a hijacker, was the claim that on the pilot's home flight simulator was a 'practice' flight to the island.
Professor Glees said: 'The Americans would have no interest in doing anything of the kind and not telling the world.
'In theory, they might wish to shoot down a plane they thought was attacking them but they wouldn't just fire missiles, they'd investigate it first with fighters and would quickly realise that even if it had to be shot down, the world would need to know.'
Mr Rosenschein said: 'The U.S. would not have been able to hide this fact and in any event, if it were true, they would have admitted their action as it would have prevented a successful terrorist action on this occasion and acted as a deterrent for future terrorist attacks.' 

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