An international team of aviation experts and investigators have still not located the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, two years after the Boeing 777 vanished on 8 March 2014 on route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
Analysis of satellite data suggests the aircraft crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, after diverting away from its planned flightpath to China. Yet despite the discovery of a small fragment of aircraft wing on Reunion Island and part of an airliner's vertical stabiliser on a Mozambique beach, both of which investigators say likely belong to MH370, conspiracy theorists have come up with various alternative explanations as to the whereabouts of the missing jet.
In July 2015, the discovery of the debris on Reunion sparked theories that the two-metre piece of aircraft wing was planted. French investigators confirmed the part came from MH370 after one of the three numbers on the flaperon was identified by a technician from Airbus Defence And Space (ADS-SAU) in Spain, who manufactured the part. But some of the families of passengers on board MH370 said the debris was fake, in hope that their missing relatives were still alive.
A survey carried out by CNN in May 2014 found that one in ten Americans believed "space aliens, time travellers or beings from another dimension" were somehow involved in the aircraft's disappearance. In the same poll, 26% of respondents said it was very likely that the plane went missing due to actions carried out by the pilots or crew members, while 40% said it was somewhat likely.
Some theorists have pointed the finger of blame at Russian authorities. In aviation expert and journalist Jeff Wise's book, The Plane That Wasn't There: Why We Haven't Found MH370, he suggests Vladimir Putin stole the Boeing 777 because of US economic sanctions levied against the Kremlin.
Writing in New York Magazine, Wise highlights several possible reasons why Russia could be involved in the disappearance of the plane. "Maybe what he was really after were the secrets of one of the plane's passengers," he wrote. "Maybe there was something strategically crucial in the hold."
MH17 same as MH370
Just a few months after the disappearance of MH370, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. MH17 was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile over the war-torn region, an investigation by the Dutch Safety Board confirmed. Some conspiracy theorists claimed the two planes were the same and that it was actually MH370 in the air over Ukraine – despite this being impossible.
Plane shot down during military exercise
This theory suggests MH370 could have been shot down during a joint military exercise in the South China Sea between the United States and Thailand. This is detailed in a book called Flight MH370: The Mystery by British writer Nigel Cawthorne. "The drill was to involve mock warfare on land, in water and in the air, and would include live-fire exercises," he wrote. The families and friends of those on board the flight criticised the book as insensitive and lacking any empirical evidence.
One of the most common conspiracy theories is that MH370 was taken towards Diego Garcia, an atoll in the central Indian Ocean that hosts a large US military base.