The disappearance of Malaysia Airline MH370 is close to becoming a mystery that throws up information ranging from the incredulous to the plain humorous. After losing its bearing late in the night of last Friday, the Boeing 777-200ER has become the subject of intense speculation among aviation experts, the military, governments, public security analysts, and the common man. Talk on what happened to the giant plane flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing ranges from suspicion of terrorism to an onboard explosion. Caught amid all the brouhaha and public curiosity generated by the extensive international coverage are the hapless relatives of the 239 victims.
The plight of the victims’ families is worsening as time passes without any credible information about the lost aircraft. Moreover, they come across conflicting data released by the Malaysian government which is under international pressure to produce results more than five days after the incident. Amid the plethora of reports, victims’ families at a Beijing hotel are praying for their loved ones. There are cards with messages of hope and love scrawled on them. Beyond emotions, however, lies a reality that is becoming hard to fathom.
China on Wednesday raised some hope after declaring that satellite imagery had shown three floating objects near the spot where the plane lost contact. However, a thorough search of the area didn’t produce anything. A Wall Street Journal report has quoted US experts suspecting that the plane flew for about four hours after losing contact. This theory says that the transponder may have been switched off after which the plane was flown off the course in uncertain conditions. The report hints at the possibility of the aircraft being commandeered with the “intention of using it later for another purpose.” This came after the focus of the investigation had shifted from searches in the South China Sea to the Strait of Malacca after a military radar was said to have detected the plane flying to the West from its last reported point.
No one knows why this information was kept under wraps for four days.
An oil rig worker in the South China Sea was reported to have seen a flying object on fire near the spot from where the airline supposedly veered West. From the initial news of two passengers with stolen passports boarding the flight to a suspected electrical failure on board, the glut of theories has confused the public and officials alike. To keep the air clear in this moment of crisis, Malaysian authorities need to carefully scan the information before releasing it in the public sphere. By holding regular press conferences, it is meeting the condition of transparency, which is so much needed during crisis management. However, what is being told to the media should always stand the test of credibility.