On March 8, 2014, a plane took off from Kuala Lumpur, heading for Beijing. However, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 never reached its destination. Five years later, the crash site of the Boeing 777 has still not been discovered, and the pain and anger of those who lost loved ones continue, as they are unable to get answers or closure.
Despite several inquiries and the most extensive underwater search ever conducted, what happened to MH370 remains a mystery. In 2015 debris washed ashore on or near the African coast was confirmed to have come from the plane, and computer modeling of currents indicated that the debris originated from the southern Indian Ocean, near Australia. However, MH370 should never have been anywhere near that location.
The plane’s transponder, a device which transmits information to air traffic control, was switched off 40 minutes into the flight. From military radar, we know that MH370 veered away from its intended path, turning south-west, then north again. Why the pilot took this course though is unknown.
Some have suggested that it was a planned action by the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, similar to the murder-suicide by the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 in 2015. Speculation was fueled by the discovery that Captain Zaharie had mapped out a similar route on his home flight simulator. However, the idea has been dismissed by official investigators, who believe that a loss of oxygen caused passengers and crew to fall unconscious, and that the plane then flew on autopilot until its fuel ran out. However, this does not explain the change of course, which is believed to have been a human intervention, perhaps in an attempt to turn round and make an emergency landing.
An official report by Malaysian authorities, initially described as “final”, caused upset and fury among the families of passengers, leaving them with more questions than answers. The majority of the passengers were Chinese nationals, including a group of artists returning from a calligraphy exhibition, but the city’s international community was affected too: two students from the Lycée Français International de Pékin (LFIP) and their mother were onboard, as well as parents of a student at Beijing City International School (BCIS) and the partner of a former teacher at Western Academy of Beijing (WAB).
For all those who lost loved ones in this tragedy, the search for closure goes on. Our thoughts are with them on this sad anniversary, and we join them in hoping that someday, the truth about MH370 will come to light.