A memorial for MH 370’s victims outside an air force base in Perth, Australia
Richard Wainwright—EPA
March 27, 2014

Questions Remain as Malaysia Declares Fate of Missing Airliner

By the time the text message arrived, 17 days had passed since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was addressed to the loved ones of the 239 passengers and crew, and the tone was clinical: based on an analysis of satellite data, Malaysian authorities had concluded “beyond any reasonable doubt” that MH 370 had plunged into the southern Indian Ocean seven hours off its intended flight path. There were no survivors.

For the families of those aboard MH 370, the news, which was grounded in calculations by a British satellite firm, could not have been a complete surprise. Nevertheless, as the days passed and the mystery deepened over what had caused the airliner to cut most communications less than an hour into its March 8 flight, it was natural to cling to even the faintest filament of hope. Perhaps the flight had been hijacked and the passengers were holed up in some Central Asian mountain hideaway? After all, the Malaysian government had said it believed the plane had been deliberately diverted by someone on board.

At a hotel in Beijing, where relatives of 153 Chinese passengers had been camped out, mourners fainted after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, speaking during a March 24 press conference held just minutes after the text message went out, said MH 370 had indeed been lost at sea.

But even if there was clarity on the ultimate fate of those on board, other mysteries festered. As of March 26, no confirmed wreckage from the plane had been discovered. Chinese warships and the nation’s first icebreaker vessel, the Snow Dragon, chugged to waters where international satellites had picked up possible debris among the choppy whitecaps. Planes from Australia, China, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. flew search sorties from western Australia, which is some 1,500 miles (2,415 km) northeast of the suspected crash site.

Finding floating debris will be far easier than recovering the plane’s black boxes, which could help verify one of several theories about MH 370: pilot suicide, hijacking, a freak electronic failure or fire. In the case of an Air France flight that pitched into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, it took two years to find the flight recorders deep in the ocean, even though some of the plane’s wreckage was located six days after the crash. Australian Defense Minister David Johnston has described the swath of Indian Ocean suspected to be the resting place of MH 370 as “one of the most remote parts of the planet.”

Still lacking crucial details, Chinese families marched on March 25 from their hotel toward the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, demanding better treatment and more information. It was a rare public protest in China, allowed by a government that normally snuffs out any sign of popular dissent. But this demonstration was against another country and its national carrier. The same day, Chinese President Xi Jinping appointed a special envoy to Malaysia to deal with “issues surrounding the plane’s disappearance,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Back near the Malaysian embassy, the messages were more personal. A parent of one of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s passengers held aloft a placard. Mommy and Daddy’s hearts are broken, the sign said. come home soon.

POLL

INTERNET CENSORSHIP

The Pew Research Center asked people in 24 countries if it is important to have Internet access without government censorship. A sample of those who said it is:

89% Venezuela

72% Nigeria

56% Tunisia

22% Pakistan

The Party Faithful

TURKEY

Supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party climb trees to witness a speech by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a rally in Istanbul on March 23, days after his government was condemned by Western nations for blocking access to Twitter. Speaking before local elections, he rejected his critics’ allegations of intolerance, saying, “I’m not listening.” A Turkish court suspended the Twitter ban on March 26.

EGYPT

529

Number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced to death on March 24–after a two-day trial in the city of Minya–on charges of killing a police officer in August

Roundup

The world’s gambling hot spots

New South Wales, Australia, has the second highest number of gambling machines worldwide, according to the trade group Gaming Technologies Association. Here is a look at other international gambling hubs:

Nevada

The home of Las Vegas has 181,109 gambling machines, more than any other state in the world. Last year, casinos there booked $11.1 billion in gambling revenue.

Singapore

The city-state’s two casinos pull in some $6 billion in annual gambling revenue, making it the second largest gambling hub in Asia.

Macau

It has far fewer gambling machines than Nevada, but with $45.2 billion in revenue last year, China’s Macau region boasts the world’s highest gambling revenue.

Monaco

The tiny nation has the world’s highest number of gambling machines per person. Last year its famed Monte Carlo casino netted $243 million in gaming revenue.

Japan

Gambling is illegal in Japan, but it has over 4.5 million gaming terminals, which reward players with tokens and other prizes instead of cash.

Spotlight Story
Italy Appears to be Flattening the Curve. What Did the Country Do Right?
The latest figures are promising. Can other countries learn from Italy?

ITALY

‘Repent. There’s still time to not end up in hell.’

Pope Francis, denouncing the Mafia during an annual vigil for victims of organized crime in Rome on March 21. “Men and women of the Mafia, please change your lives,” he said, warning mobsters that they couldn’t take their “bloody money and blood power” to the afterlife.

Trending In

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DIPLOMACY

Japan agreed to turn over weapons-grade nuclear material to the U.S., which will convert it into a more benign form

JUSTICE

President Obama deployed U.S. military aircraft to Uganda for the first time in the hunt for warlord Joseph Kony

VIOLENCE

Riot police in Taiwan violently evicted protesters from a government building, injuring 137, amid rallies against a trade deal with China

TERRORISM

Gunmen opened fire inside Kabul’s Serena Hotel, killing nine people, amid a string of Taliban attacks ahead of national elections on April 5

This appears in the April 07, 2014 issue of TIME.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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