Timeline of search for Flight MH370
French prosecutors confirmed Thursday that a wing part found on a remote Indian Ocean island was from ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, 18 months into the search for the airliner.
Following is a timeline of major developments in the mystery disappearance of the flight and its 239 passengers and crew:
- March 8, 2014: Flight 370 departs Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 am, bound for Beijing. It vanishes from Malaysian civilian radar at 1:30 am, just before passing to Vietnamese air traffic control. It appears on military radar until 2:15 am, but Malaysia's air force takes no action. Vietnam launches a search operation that expands into a multinational hunt in the South China Sea.
Malaysian police later say background checks of all on board produced no red flags.
- March 14: The hunt spreads far south to the Indian Ocean after the White House cites "new information" that the jet may have flown on after losing contact.
- March 15: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announces that the plane appeared to have flown for hours, veering sharply off-route at roughly the same time that its communications system and transponder were manually switched off.
- March 24: Malaysia's Razak announces "with deep sadness and regret" that MH370 is presumed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, citing new analysis of the satellite data. The next day in Beijing, emotional Chinese relatives of passengers scuffle with guards outside the Malaysian embassy, demanding answers.
- April 14: Australia deploys an American deep-sea drone to scan the seabed for debris near sites where suspected black box pings had been heard. It ultimately finds nothing.
- April 28: Australia announces the search area will be expanded across a huge swathe of ocean. The focus shifts for several months to mapping the uncharted seafloor before searching can resume.
- May 27: After weeks of pressure from families, Malaysia releases raw satellite data used to determine the search zone. Relatives say crucial data was omitted.
- January 29, 2015: Malaysia's government declares MH370's passengers and crew "presumed dead", angering next of kin who demand proof.
- April 16: Malaysia, Australia, and China say the oceanic search area for flight MH370 will double in size to 120,000 square kilometres (46,300 square miles).
- July 29: A piece of aircraft debris is found by a beachcomber on the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean. The wreckage, determined to be a wing part from a Boeing 777, is sent to France for analysis.
- August 6: Malaysia's PM Razak announces that a team of experts has "conclusively confirmed" the wreckage is from MH370.
- August 8: France launches new searches by air, land and sea from Reunion island to hunt for more possible MH370 wreckage, but calls off the search on August 17, saying it has yielded no results.
- September 3: French prosecutors confirm that the wing part found on Reunion was from MH370.
© 2015 AFP