The investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, has presented some twists and turns in recent days.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members –vanished from radar screens less than an hour after taking off from the Malaysian capital early on Saturday, March 8.
The aircraft was flying in good weather conditions and disappeared without a distress call – unusual for a modern jetliner.
Thus far, nothing is known publicly to indicate what happened to the plane or its whereabouts, with Malaysian authorities exploring all possibilities – from technical failure to foul play – for its disappearance.
Here is a chronology of developments:
Wednesday, March 12
Search efforts intensify: The area of search for the missing aircraft expands to 27,000 nautical square miles covering the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca, with a total of 12 countries participating in the operation. There are a total of 42 ships and 39 aircraft currently involved in the multi-national search.
Search scale-back in Vietnamese area: Vietnam says it is scaling back its search in Vietnamese waters for the missing plane, Reuters reported.
Tuesday, March 11
Clarity on stolen passports: Interpol identifies two Iranian men as the passengers traveling on stolen passports: Pouria Nourmohammadi, 18, and Seyed Mohammed Reza Delavar, 29. The two men swapped their passports in Kuala Lumpur, using stolen Italian and Austrian passports to board the airline.
Interpol says it does not believe the disappearance of the jetliner is a result of a terrorist attack. Nourmohammadi is believed to have been traveling to Europe as an asylum seeker, according to the Malaysian police.
However, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director John Brennan says intelligence officials cannot rule out terrorism as a factor.
‘Turned back’ possibility probed: Malaysia’s military look further into the possibility that the airplane turned back after flying over Kota Bharu on Malaysia’s northeast coast, an official from the Malaysia’s Transport Ministry told NBC News.
Police investigation: The Malaysian police say their investigation will look into four key areas: hijacking, sabotage, psychological and personal problems among crew and passengers.
Allegations against first officer: Photos and videos emerge of a Malaysia Airlines co-pilot identified as first officer Fariq Ab Hamid entertaining woman inside the cockpit during a previous flight. The airline says it is “shocked” by the allegations and has not been able to confirm validity of the claims.
Monday, March 10
Oil slick results: Malaysian authorities receive test results from the oil slick spotted off Vietnam’s coast, which came back negative for jet fuel. The oil turns out to be fuel oil typically used in cargo ships.
Search area widened: Malaysia’s civil aviation announces that the search area will double to 100 nautical miles to cover a larger area of the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam. This came after several leads from the original 50 mile-radius search parameter proved erroneous.
Shares tumble: Shares of Malaysia Airlines plummeted 18 percent to a record low in intraday trade but pared losses by the end of session to finish down 4 percent.
Sunday, March 9
‘Turn back’ claims: Radar tracking the flight suggests it may have “turned back”from its scheduled route to Beijing before vanishing.
Search area widened: Search radius widens to 50 nautical miles from 20 nautical miles of the last-known position of the plane, including the Strait of Malacca. More countries join the search and rescue operation including China, U.S., Singapore and the Philippines.
Stolen passports: Interpol confirms two passengers had used stolen passports and said it was checking whether others aboard had used false identity documents.
Saturday, March 8
Flight takes off: Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 departs at 12:21 a.m.local time on Saturday, and is due to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. on the same day. The flight was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. The passengers are of at least 12 different nationalities; all crew on-board are Malaysians.
Mysterious disappearance: The flight loses contact with air traffic controllers about an hour after taking off. The last-known position of the plane was 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said. The aircraft was flying in good weather conditions and disappeared without warning or a distress signal.
Search efforts begin: Malaysia and Vietnam mount a joint search and rescue mission for the missing flight.