One year after the disappearance of a Malaysian aeroplane, we are no closer to the truth. Many conspiracy theories have emerged — but is uncertainty the most unsettling possibility of all?

Exactly one year ago, a Boeing 777 airliner was heading across Malaysia towards Beijing, with 239 passengers and crew on board. The co-pilot radioed goodnight to air traffic control less than an hour into the flight. He was never heard from again — nor were any of his passengers and crew.

Since then, Australia has scoured the Southern Indian Ocean in the world’s largest ever underwater search. Nothing has been found. Finally, in January, officials declared MH370 officially lost and its passengers presumed dead.

As families mark the anniversary of their relatives’ disappearance, the Malaysian government has published a report about the vanishing plane. The Malaysian authorities say the plane most likely crashed into the ocean.

Yet doubt persists: many are astounded that such a large aircraft could vanish without a trace. In the absence of a credible explanation, theories abound.

Some think a decompression in the cabin made everyone unconscious. Others have suggested that the pilot committed suicide, although such an event is rare. Some claim the plane was accidentally targeted during a military exercise between the US and Thailand, that the passengers are in the hands of terrorists, or that the disappearance was caused by Russia in response to US-imposed sanctions.

Because no wreckage has been found, consensus among the victims’ families is that the plane didn’t crash in the ocean. One relative says, ‘Most of us believe the plane landed in some military base, and that after some negotiation our family members will return’.

Others say nothing out of the ordinary went on in the background to the plane’s disappearance. A detailed independent report was published yesterday, with hundreds of pages about the crew’s lives, the plane’s service record, weather, communication systems and more. It quashed speculations about the pilot’s state of mind, and offers no clues into the plane’s whereabouts, making its disappearance even more of a mystery. But the Malaysian prime minister vows to continue the search, saying Malaysia remains ‘committed’ and ‘hopeful’.

[divider]Head in the clouds[/divider]

Things don’t just vanish into mid-air, the baffled and grief-stricken families say — especially not something the size of an aeroplane. There has to be an explanation: either the plane will be found somewhere in the ocean, or something more sinister is at work. Either way, we must not rest until we know the truth.

The reason people are desperate for an answer, one journalist argues, is the ‘fear of chaos’. He says ‘it’s easier to believe in huge cover-ups than to accept no one really knows what happened to MH370’. Perhaps we must put this down to one of life’s great mysteries and move on.

If MH370 is definitely in the ocean, why haven’t we found it yet? The Southern Indian Ocean is part of the Indian Ocean, which is the third largest ocean in the world, covering about 20% of the water on the earth’s surface. The search area alone covers 319,000 square km, and the search team has only completed 40% of the whole area.

Have there been any other planes that have disappeared without a trace? Yes. While the MH370 has many unanswered questions that have left us puzzled, it isn’t the only plane to have vanished. Several planes have gone missing in the area between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda, which led to many Bermuda Triangle conspiracies. Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappeared on a fight in 1937, leading to speculation that still continues today.

 

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