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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Everything You Need to Know About Its Mysterious Disappearance

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Image

If you haven't been on the Internet, or watching TV or reading newspapers for the past couple days, first of all…what have you been doing?! Second of all, you have no doubt missed all the coverage on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which seems to have disappeared into thin air while flying over the South China Sea this past Saturday. 239 people were on board.

This story seems to get more mysterious as each day goes by, and with every piece of new information comes a new question. But the two biggest questions that the entire world is asking are: "Where is the plane?" and "What happened up there?"

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To catch you up on this tragic story, here's a quick guide of everything you need to know:

Timeline

On Saturday, March at 12:41 a.m. local time, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 left Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing. There was no adverse weather in the area the plane was flying into.

At 1:07 a.m., shortly before disappearing off the radar, the last known words from the flight crew were "All right, good night," according to what a Malaysian aviation official told CNN.

Around 1:30 a.m., Flight 370 dropped from the radar while flying between Malaysia and Vietnam. There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board, mostly of Chinese and Malaysian nationality. 

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Radar tracking reportedly showed that the last known location of the plane was over the small island of Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca, which is hundreds of miles from the original flight path, according to a senior Malaysian Air Force official. If the data is correct, it seems that at that time the plane was flying in the opposite direction of Beijing, its destination.

The Search

Since the plane disappeared, a multinational search has been ongoing. But since no one is quite sure where the plane disappeared or where it was headed at the time it vanished off of radar, the search zone is very vast. As many as 40 ships and 39 planes from 10 different countries are combing an area of more than 30,000 miles for the plane. Ocean depths in the search zone reach up to 5,000 feet.

As of Thursday, March 13, no debris from the plane has been found. On Wednesday, March 12, images from Chinese satellites revealed what looked to be debris in the ocean near the flight path, but when a search team was dispatched to that area, they found nothing. No oil spills, no wreckage, no plane…nothing.

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The Causes

There is no evidence of mechanical failure, but officials are looking into pilot error. There were no distress calls from the plane and the aircraft had recently passed a routine inspection. 

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images

Three days after the plane vanished, it was revealed that two Iranian passengers on the plane had boarded using passports stolen from an Italian and an Austrian citizen. The men were identified as 18-year-old Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and 29-year-old Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza (above). 

Both men had flown to Kuala Lumpur using their own Iranian passports before getting on Flight 370 with the stolen passports. Malaysian police recently discovered that Mehrdad was seeking asylum and traveling to Germany to be with his mother, who they've been in contact with.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble stated that investigators believe Mehrdad and Reza do not have any terrorist connections, saying "the more info we get about missing jet, the more we're inclined to conclude it's not terrorism."

And of course, conspiracy theorists believe that aliens are to blame for the vanishing plane. Which honestly, with all the weird circumstances surrounding this situation, is not the craziest theory in rotation right now.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 STR/AFP/Getty Images

So that's the basic need-to-know facts about the missing plane. Of course, there are conflicting reports flying around and many theories about hijacking or power failure. But with every theory comes a conflicting report, so right now, everyone is just waiting for someone, anyone to find any signs of the plane.

CNN.com has a list of unanswered questions if you want to dig deeper into the Flight 370 mystery, but you are caught up now for the most part.

Hopefully loved ones of the people aboard get answers sooner rather than later. And our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and their families during this tragic time.

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