After several days of speculation about the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Malaysian investigators announced earlier yesterday that they believe the plane was hijacked. This conclusion was reiterated by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak later in the day at a press conference.
In a new development, the pilot of the flight reportedly made contact with air traffic control officials after the plane's data system was disabled. Here's what else is happening in the case of MH370:
- There are now 25 countries actively involved in the search for MH370, up from 14 countries just yesterday. Everyone from the flight staff to the passengers and ground crew are being investigated.
- Police are also looking specifically at pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, whose home and flight simulator were inspected yesterday. Conjecture is swirling about Shah's political leanings. He is said to be a "'fanatical' supporter of the country's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim" who was jailed just before the jet took off.
- India is reportedly suspending its search for the plane to conserve resources.
For more in-depth coverage, see yesterday's live blog below:
5:57 p.m.: Not everyone is taking the Malaysian prime minister as his word. One senior American official pushed back against the hijacking theory. Or at least pushed back against the certainty of it.
“It doesn’t mean anything; all it is is a theory. Find the plane, find the black boxes and then we can figure out what happened. It has to be based on something, and until they have something more to go on it’s all just theories.”
Meanwhile, new theories are picking up steam.
4:41 p.m.: Over at the Atlantic, James Fallows puts in his two cents about MH370 and specifically takes aim at Rupert Murdoch's brazen tweets from nearly a week ago.
777crash confirms jihadists turning to make trouble for China. Chance for US to make common cause, befriend China while Russia bullies.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) March 9, 2014
Fallows adds: "It's possible that the jihadist interpretation will turn out to be true. But the word 'confirms,' before anyone knew (or yet knows) what happened to the flight, from perhaps the single most powerful 'journalistic' figure in the world is ... well, it confirms a lot of suspicions about Murdoch."
12:06 p.m.: The Wall Street Journal has a pretty good video explainer breaking down how MH370's communications system could have been sabotaged.
10:33 a.m.: The disappearance of MH370 has officially become a criminal investigation after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak echoed investigators who deemed the episode a hijacking earlier today.
According to Mr. Najib, a satellite orbiting 22,250 miles (35,800 kilometers) over the middle of the Indian Ocean received a transmission that, based on the angle of transmission from the plane, came from a location somewhere along one of two arcs. One arc runs from the southern border of Kazakhstan in Central Asia to northern Thailand. The other runs from near Jakarta, Indonesia, to the Indian Ocean, roughly 1,000 miles off the west coast of Australia.
Details about this new evidence (like most things in this rigmarole) were hard to come by. In related news, police were spotted at the house of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the missing plane.
Over a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, Malaysian investigators have 'conclusively' determined that the plane was hijacked. This latest development comes after several days of dizzying speculation, confusion, and conspiracy about the fate of the plane and the 239 people onboard.
As we noted earlier, the most recent theory put forth by unnamed officials was that MH370 might have drastically deviated from its route and flown on for hours. (Malaysian officials initially denied this.) Today's announcement now builds off of that narrative, adding that "one or more people with significant flying experience hijacked the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, switched off communication devices and steered it off-course."
Some quick reactions in the Twittersphere highlighted the bizarre nature of the MH370 saga, which at times has veered the discourse into farce:
Malaysian officials announce that Malaysia Airlines 370 was hijacked, presumably officials from the Department of Obvious.— Josh Barro (@jbarro) March 15, 2014
(Of course that means some other Malaysian official will deny in this within hours.)— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) March 15, 2014
Hijacked? I had my money on it entering another dimension.— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) March 15, 2014
If the hijacking theory becomes conventional wisdom in the coming days, we'll have a whole new set of questions to chew over. Until then, based on what has already been reported over the past week, everything (including dimensional egress) will probably remain on the table.