Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 remains missing despite a search covering hundreds of thousands of miles, and as the fruitless search nears the one-year mark, a theory that the plane may have not crashed is once again gaining steam.
The plane went missing in March, disappearing from radar with 239 passengers and crew on board. After a search covering large swaths of the ocean floor has failed to turn up even a trace of the plane, some once-dismissed theories of the plane’s disappearance are being revived.
Though the search has operated under the assumption that the plane continued to fly off course until crashing in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia, investigators reportedly have said they cannot rule out the possibility that Flight MH370 actually landed.
The theory may seem outlandish to some, but it does have many supporters. A poll conducted by CNN found that 21 percent of people believe the plane may have actually landed somewhere, and that not all those on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have died.
But even as conspiracy theories persist about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and the possibility that it landed, officials in charge of the search are closing the door on at least one part of it. Last week, the Malaysian government officially called off the search for the passengers and crew on board, though the search for the Boeing 777 itself will go on.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the general director of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation, said in a statement that all those on board the plane are now considered dead.
“It is therefore, with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that, on behalf of the government of Malaysia, we officially declare Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident. All 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives.”
But there are still those who doubt the theory that the plane crashed on its own. Last year, the former head of the now-defunct Proteus Airlines, Mark Dugain, claimed that the Boeing 777 was shot down by the U.S. Air Force, noting that locals in the Maldives claimed to have seen the plane flying at low altitude.
“I saw a huge plane fly over us at low altitude,” one fisherman reportedly told Dugain. “I saw red and blue stripes (the livery of Malaysia Airlines) on a white background.”
While Dugain theorized that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was shot down, others believe the low-altitude sightings are proof that the plane landed and was secretly brought to another location.