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MH370: Several ghost stories doing rounds

Tuesday, 18 March 2014 - 5:30am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

"All right, good night," the last words spoken by who is presumed to be one of the two pilots of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 which took off on March 8 and has since remained untraced, has gone very wrong for the families of the 239 passengers and 11 crew. That was not a "good night", and definitely not "all right" . And there's an Indian connection in as far as five Indians were on board, and the aircraft after it was diverted moved towards the Andaman Sea.

As of Monday, the day after Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak called prime minister Manmohan Singh seeking further help, 26 countries are on the lookout for the Boeing missing 777-200,which transmitted those last four words of comfort and then veered off, on to another course, flying high up at 45,000 feet, according to certain reports, and then in an attempt to "terrain mask", hugging the planet at 5000 feet.

Those are just two of the many theories/stories doing the rounds as antagonism for Malaysia builds up in several countries involved in search operations. China, with the majority of passengers in MH370 of Chinese origin, is the most distrustful of Malaysia, followed by the United States, which is peeved that Malaysia has refused US help on a larger scale. Only two FBI agents are stationed in Kuala Lumpur, and the pair has been kept at arm's length, for reasons best known to Malaysia only.

And as India celebrated Holi, with the colours of the festival mingling with the noise and dust of the upcoming general elections, there has been not much curiosity on the mystery of the missing plane with 250 people on board. That five of them are Indian has hardly found notice except in the first couple of days after MH370 went off the radar.

On Sunday, the US revealed that its powerful military radars had mapped MH370's flight path right into and perhaps beyond the Indian Ocean. Simultaneously, it has been found that "all right, good right" was spoken after communication was partially disabled in the aircraft, possibly by one or both of the pilots, strengthening the hijack theory, which sections in US counterterrorism circles voice and support. China has also said that the "missing" could be the handiwork of Uyuigur Muslims.

That said, there are other questions that need answers. After 10 days, it's certain that MH370 can't be airborne anymore. It would have run out of fuel long ago, and unless landed and refueled couldn't have moved on. So, if it did land, where? In that case, what about the passengers? Australia, which has taken the lead in searching the vast expanse of the southern Indian ocean, has pushed specialised military aircraft into service to search the many uninhabited islands that dot this part of the Indian Ocean. It's a Herculean task.

Meanwhile, for the first time, the authorities have started talking "suicide". Did one of the pilots plan suicide, and kill the other pilot before plunging the plane into the ocean from high up? Did he decompress the plane and kill all the passengers, too? Cyberspace is abuzz with "suicide" talk, with everyone including "professionals" debating the theory. With authorities in several countries also mulling this theory, the talk has begun to gain currency.

Then there's the story of the aircraft being secretly diverted and cached away at an unknown location to enact a 9/11 on India at a later time. As expected India instantly shot down this theory, say sources. But for as long as MH370 remains untraced and the fate of the passengers also not known, this will be one of the many theories that will remain airborne. It has, even if dangerous threat, a nice ring to it.

On a serious note, though, if nothing, such a theory will at least make Indians take more interest and express more concern for the Indian passengers on board MH370. In China and Malaysia, the concern is greater and widespread. In India, it has been ephemeral and not expressed beyond the limits of Mumbai.
Where has MH370 disappeared to? It's a global concern, not just Malaysian, Chinese or Indian. What if more such vanishing acts of big airplanes with people in them take place? Are aliens at work, have they finally made contact? As long as MH370 stays vanished, nothing is farfetched.

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