As fears for the 239 passengers missing on a Malaysia Airlines flight continue to rise, speculation as to what may have happened to MH 370 are flying high.
While Malaysian officials have appealed for people to avoid spreading rumours about the cause of the missing flight, conspiracy theories are emerging online - from a terrorist attack to spontaneous explosions and a wild stunt.
Authorities have dismissed reports that the two passengers travelling on stolen passports had links to the Chinese Martys’ Brigade, as a hoax. The group had reportedly claimed responsibility for the disappearance of the plane in an encrypted email to journalists in China on Sunday.
Other theories also sparked by the stolen passport investigations suggest terrorists had hijacked the plane and have parked it intact with all radio devices turned off.
The speculation adds to reports that the mobile phones of several passengers were connecting but not being answered, the International Business Times reported.
The sister of one of the Chinese passengers claimed to have gotten a ringing tone when she called his phone, while a man calling his missing brother said the phone had rung three times before appearing to hang up.
The phone numbers have been passed on to Chinese police and Malaysia Airlines.
Speculation that the Malaysia Airlines plane disintegrated in mid-flight have been flagged with a senior source saying the aircraft could have exploded due to mechanical issues.
"The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet (10,600 metres)," said a source involved in the investigations in Malaysia.
However, one aviation expert told the South China Morning Post that it was mysterious that even if the plane had disintegrated, debris had not detected on air traffic control radar.
The theory echoes the 2009 Air France tragedy when the plane disappeared over the Atlantic after it flew into turbulence on route to Paris. It took five days for rescue teams to find the first bits of wreckage and another two years to find the bulk of the destroyed plane.
Radar logs indicate the MH 370 may have turned around in flight somewhere near the south of Vietnam while over the South China Sea, and authorities are investigating a possible wreckage object spotted near Vietnam’s southwestern tip.
However, civil aviation personnel have not specified if the cable reel found was part of the plane.
Others say the plane most likely crashed off the country’s Tho Chu Island.
On social media forum Reddit, posts from users claiming to be technical aviation experts say that the plane would have had enough fuel to travel up to 190km at 10,600 metres and so the search area could potentially be thousands of square kilometres wide.
While no evidence has emerged that captain of the MH 370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid may have committed suicide, the idea has been included in possible theories.
Deliberate crashes caused by pilots were cited as possible reasons for incidents in the late 1990s.
- Sydney Morning Herald