Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: the conspiracy theories
As the world continues to await news of what really happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370, the internet has proved a fertile breeding ground for speculation, conspiracy and innuendo.
Three days on, with still no sighting of the plane or its 239 passengers, online communities have been more than willing to volunteer their own answers to the mystery.
Online aviation forums are littered with hundreds of posts suggesting various reasons for the disappearance, or where the plane's wreckage may have ended up.
Alongside more prosaic explanations, theories flagged on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network include that the MH 370 was struck by a meteor shower, hit by missiles or that surrounding countries are involved in a military conspiracy, given that military radar recordings which may have tracked the aircraft are yet to be brought forward.
Meanwhile, at the other extreme, some believe aliens or UFOs may have abducted the Malaysian Airlines flight and, like something out of the television series The X-Files, transported it into an “outer space wormhole” with the passengers “held against their will by terrorists or otherworldly aliens”.
Here are some of the most common themes emerging amid the unconfirmed reports.
Authorities have dismissed earlier reports that the two passengers travelling on stolen passports had links to the Chinese Martyrs’ 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.
Meanwhile, on community website airliners.net, some suggested crew might have acted in the style of the lead character, Razio Yamata from Tom Clancy’s novel, The Debt of Honour, in which he sets out to cripple the United States in response to the death of his Japanese parents.
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.
In the jungles and waters of Vietnam
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.
Outer space and Hollywood hype
Like something out of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, questions have been raised over the dangers of space debris hitting the aircraft following last week’s explosion of a Russian rocket booster over the Cayman Islands.
But it took the Toronto Sun newspaper to blame Hollywood for the missing plane, suggesting it might be part of a remake of the television series Lost.