MH370: One Decade On

Students hold vigil for MH370 passengers on March 10, 2014 in Zhuji, China | Image Credit: Getty Images
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Ten years ago, a Malaysia Airlines 777-200 departed from Kuala Lumpur and became aviation’s greatest mystery.

“Good night Malaysian three seven zero,” Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah said, as he bade farewell to Malaysian air traffic control, some 40 minutes after departing Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It was to be the last transmission ever received from the flight.

For a full decade now, one of the most confounding mysteries of the modern era has loomed over the aviation world: the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. A commercial widebody airliner with a commendable safety record, carrying 239 souls, vanished from radar screens on March 8, 2014.

Since then, the fate of MH370 has stirred a whirlwind of speculation, spawning myriad theories, documentaries, and books. Each year, as the anniversary approaches, the families of those on board are left grappling with the haunting question that remains unanswered a decade on: What happened to their loved ones?

Remembering MH370 during an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of its disappearance, in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, on March 3, 2024 | Image Credit: Hasnoor Hussain/Reuters

In an age when technology has enabled the retrieval of black boxes from ocean depths and the meticulous reconstruction of crashed aircraft, the disappearance of MH370 remains a maddening riddle. It is a tragedy without a tangible plane, a catastrophe lacking conclusive evidence, a tale that resonates with anyone who has boarded a commercial flight, yet it lacks any semblance of closure.

Jiang Hui, who lost his mother on MH370, feels the weight of this unresolved anguish, especially during Qingming, the annual festival when Chinese families honour their ancestors. “But we never found MH370. I never found my mother,” Jiang laments, reflecting the sentiments of many others who continue to grapple with loss and uncertainty.

The ill-fated flight, bound for Beijing, vanished without a trace shortly after departing Kuala Lumpur. Despite apparent debris washing ashore on the eastern coast of Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean, the aircraft and its occupants’ fate still remain shrouded in mystery. While fragments hint at a tragic end, the plane’s main wreckage and its crucial black box have eluded discovery, leaving behind a void of unanswered questions.

A flaperon from MH370 was recovered from Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean in 2015 | Image Credit: Raymond Wae Tion/EPA


This year, as the world marks the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, the families of the missing are renewing their call for answers. V.P.R Nathan, who lost his wife Anne Daisy on MH370, remains hopeful that a new search could yield breakthroughs. Indeed, advancements in detection technology offer promising prospects for locating the missing aircraft, albeit at a considerable cost.

Ocean Infinity, a US-based sea exploration firm, has proposed another search mission, building on its previous efforts in 2018. However, the Malaysian government must weigh the financial implications against the families’ quest for closure. Transport Minister Anthony Loke has expressed readiness to explore credible search proposals, underscoring Malaysia’s commitment to resolving this enduring mystery.

The disappearance of MH370 has spawned a myriad of theories, from mechanical failure to deliberate acts, fueling speculation and intrigue. Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of, likens the saga to a gripping espionage thriller that has captivated the world’s imagination. Yet, amidst the conjecture, the truth remains elusive, leaving families and investigators alike yearning for answers – and peace.

Li Eryou and his wife, Liu Shuangfeng, residents of a village south of Beijing, have grappled with the loss of MH370, on which their son Yanlin was a passenger. Their journey to seek closure has led Mr. Li on a global odyssey in support of the search effort. Exhausting his savings, he has embarked on voyages across Europe and Asia, traversing beaches in Madagascar where fragments of the vanished plane were discovered.


At a recent commemorative gathering in Subang Jaya, a poignant scene unfolded as a large board provided attendees with a canvas for expressing their emotions. Amid the crowd, Li knelt down, inscribing a heartfelt message to his son Yanlin in large Chinese characters, before sitting back, overcome with tears.

“Son, it’s been 10 years,” he wrote. “Your mum and dad are here to bring you back home. March 3rd, 2024.”

Li Eryou and his wife, Liu Shuangfeng, are still waiting to find out what happened to their son 10 years after MH370 vanished | Image Credit: BBC


As reported by CNN, Richard Quest, CNN’s Business editor-at-large and former Aviation Correspondent said that despite years of search efforts, “the real truth is we are no closer to knowing exactly what caused the plane to go missing.”

But that may not be the case forever. “The hope is that new search techniques, new equipment, and better understanding of what happened to the plane will make this search successful,” said Quest, author of “The Vanishing of Flight MH370.”

In fact, many aviation experts are confident about a breakthrough, if a new search is to be conducted.

They increasingly point to a piece of technology called Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, or WSPR (pronounced whisper), which debuted in 2008. The technology has become popular among those looking for MH370 in recent years.

Radio amateurs use WSPR to track the strength of radio signals around the world and the data they collect catch anomalies caused by various types of interferences, which include the flight of a large aircraft passing through, retired British Aerospace engineer Richard Godfrey explained to CNN and BBC in separate interviews.

“[These ham radio operators] record 1.7 billion records a year in their database. Imagine a huge fisherman’s net, across the globe, full of radio signals. Every time an aircraft passes through this net, it breaks a hole in the net. That tells me where an aircraft was at a particular time. Over the six hours of MH370’s flight into the southern Indian Ocean I have been able to find 313 anomalies in the radio signals at 95 different points in time. That gives you a much more refined flight route, and a more accurate determination of a crash location.”

Godfrey said he traced WSPR data back to the time when MH370 disappeared and concluded the aircraft may be lying between 3,000 and 4,000 m below the surface of the Indian Ocean, about 1,500 km off the coast of Perth, Australia.

The arcs of ‘pings’ recorded by Inmarsat satellites on March 8, 2014 | Image Credit: The Aviationist


Charitha Pattiaratchi, a distinguished professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia, spearheaded a team of researchers in conducting drift analysis. Their findings suggested that debris from MH370 would likely wash ashore on the coastlines of East African nations if it followed the coordinates indicated by the well-documented “Inmarsat pings” recorded on that fateful night 10 years ago.


Pattiaratchi is optimistic about the prospects of locating MH370, citing advancements in technology and favourable oceanic conditions. He asserts that there is a “high probability” of discovering the aircraft, particularly given the relatively intact nature of debris fields in the specified search area.

In a recent article for the Conversation newsletter, Pattiaratchi highlighted key factors influencing the search effort. The oceanic region where MH370 is believed to lie boasts depths of approximately 4,000 m and maintains water temperatures between 1-2°C, with minimal currents. These conditions suggest that, even after a decade, the debris field may remain remarkably well-preserved.

Advances in technology have helped to narrow the probable area of where MH370 might be resting | Image Credit: Airline Ratings

While the feasibility of analysing the plane’s black boxes after such a prolonged submersion remains uncertain, the prospect of locating MH370 offers a glimmer of hope to the families of the missing. For those who have endured years of uncertainty and anguish, the discovery of the aircraft would provide a semblance of closure and much-needed answers.

Despite the passage of time, the wait for answers about MH370 continues to be fuelled by hope, determination, and the unwavering resolve of those left behind. For Sarah Bajc, who lost her partner Phil Wood, the journey has been fraught with heartache and uncertainty. Yet, she remains resolute in her pursuit of answers, echoing the sentiments of many who refuse to let go of hope.

As the world commemorates the 10th anniversary of MH370’s disappearance, it serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring pain and resilience of those affected. While the search for answers has been fraught with challenges and disappointments, the quest for closure nevertheless endures, driven by the unwavering determination to unravel the mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

A family member of flight attendant Mohd Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan holds a candle bearing his name during a remembrance event to mark 10 years since MH370’s disappearance | Image Credit: Hasnoor Hussain/Reuters

Reports and information from Al Jazeera, BBC, and CNN contributed to this article.

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