Published On: Mar 19 2014 03:08:10 PM CDTUpdated On: Mar 20 2014 09:36:05 AM CDT
On March 8, 12:41 a.m. a plane carrying 239 people left the Kuala Lumpur International Airport heading to Beijing and hasn't been seen since. Take a look at the facts as the search for the plane enters its 13th day.
All tracking systems were working as the Boeing 777-200ER takes off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, headed for Beijing, on Saturday, March 8 at 12:41 a.m.
At 1:07 a.m., one of the plane's communication systems sends what turns out to be its last transmission. Shortly after, at 1:19 a.m., someone in the cockpit made a voice check-in with air traffic controllers as the plane apparently left Malaysian airspace and entered Vietnamese airspace. Initial investigations indicate it was the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, who spoke the final words, "All right, good night."
The plane's transponder stopped communicating at 1:21 a.m. With the transponder off, the plane was flying blind from the ground's point of view.
At 1:22 a.m., the plane disappeared from Thai military radar. Shortly after, the Thai radar station in southern Surathani province picked up an unknown aircraft flying in a direction opposite to what Flight 370 had been traveling. Then, civilian radar lost contact with the plane over the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam.
Though the Malaysian plane is not transmitting information, certain radar can still detect a plane in the air. According to a Malaysian Air Force official, military radar tracked the plane as it passed over the small island of Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca. At this point, the plane was hundreds of miles off course. It is then believed to have either turned northwest toward the Bay of Bengal or southwest elsewhere into the Indian Ocean. This was the last time any civilian or military radar is known to have tracked the aircraft.
Less than seven hours after it took off, Malaysian Airlines said it issued an alert that the plane was missing from radar. That alert was followed by the company announcement of the plane's disappearance on Facebook.
Malaysia'sPrime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak revealed on March 15 that a satellite tracked the plane at 8:11 a.m., more than seven hours after takeoff.
Confusion has shrouded the search for the missing plane, including the role of the pilots, pictured below. Experts are exploring the theory that one or both of the pilots deliberately steered the plane off course. The pilots' homes are being searched and their personal and political beliefs are being investigated. Authorities are also investigating all 239 passengers on board.
At least 25 countries have joined Malaysia’s search for Flight 370 across some 30 million sq. mi., amid indications that the plane flew as long as seven more hours after losing radio contact.
The lack of progress has angered and frustrated families, who have accused Malaysian officials of withholding information. Some family members staged a protest at the hotel where media covering the search are staying and one woman broke down in front of cameras, desperate to know the whereabouts of her son.
On March 19, investigators looking at a flight simulator taken from the home of one of the pilots, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, discovered that some data had been deleted from it, Malaysia's acting transportation minister said. What the revelation means is unclear.
On March 20, Australian authorities captured two objects on satellite and described them as possible debris from the missing plane. Hindered by poor weather in a wild, remote area of the southern Indian Ocean, neither the surveillance planes nor the massive Norwegian cargo ship managed to spot the debris photographed Sunday by a commercial satellite and the search was called off for the day. The images represent the best lead so far in the search for the missing plane.
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