Editorial: Closer to the truth?

GRANT SHIMMIN
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2014

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OPINION: I hope this will be the last time I write about this topic, because it's not a pleasant one.

But it certainly is instructive about just how much information - not all of it useful, by any means - can be generated in an age in which the world is connected as it is.

Of course, the fact that the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 remains unknown nearly a fortnight after its disappearance, despite the world being the global village it's become, somewhat flies in the face of that theory.

The excruciating wait for family members, for every scrap of news, every glimmer of hope, every glance into the deep abyss of catastrophic loss - because that's where some of the theories emerging will take them - drags on.

But some of those theories are starting to take on an air of distinct possibility, even likelihood.

Possibly the most plausible has come from a man describing himself as an experienced pilot, Chris Longfellow, who says the clear left turn the aircraft made signified that he was heading for an airport on the Malaysian resort island of Langkawi, which had no obstacles to an approach.

His theory is that the crew found themselves dealing with an onboard emergency, like a fire, and turned in the direction of the nearest "safe harbour". After that they may have succumbed to smoke inhalation, with the aircraft continuing to fly, possibly until it was out of fuel, before crashing.

It certainly seems an entirely believable scenario. The proof, however, will be in the pudding. If authorities take it seriously, they then have to find some sign of the plane's wreckage. "You will find it along that route," Longfellow said in a written post that has now been widely reported. So will they?

Several other new theories have also emerged, one with similiar elements, others focusing on the possibility of a hijacking, including one claim that, with its radar switched off, the aircraft could have shadowed another plane, avoiding detection, before landing.

There have been some other claims that certainly bear checking out. People on an island in the Maldives archipelago, south of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, talked of seeing a jet flying overhead, abnormally low, and an Indian IT expert claimed a satellite picture of an aircraft flying low over the Andaman Islands showed the missing plane.

So it seems if authorities can sort fact from conjecture, we may be getting close to solving a global mystery that has defied, for some time, the virtual global omnipresence technology affords the human race these days.

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Hopefully, because it must be eating the families alive.

- The Timaru Herald

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