Thursday 17 October 2019

Pilot may have suffocated his passengers on doomed flight before suicide

Search: A huge operation failed to find wreck of flight MH370. Photo: Reuters
Search: A huge operation failed to find wreck of flight MH370. Photo: Reuters

Jacey Fortin

The pilot of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have been clinically depressed, leading him to starve the passengers of oxygen and then crash into the sea in a murder-suicide, according to a new account.

MH370 was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board when it vanished and became one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

Friends of the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah (53), told aviation specialist William Langewiesche he had become obsessed with two young models he had seen on the internet after his wife left him.

A fellow pilot said: "Zaharie's marriage was bad. In the past he slept with some of the flight attendants. And so what? We all do. You're flying all over the world with these beautiful girls in the back. But his wife knew."

Intelligence agencies and investigators believed he may have been depressed, leading to a mid-air breakdown, Mr Langewiesche wrote in 'The Atlantic' magazine.

"There is a strong suspicion among investigators in the aviation and intelligence communities that he was clinically depressed," he wrote.

An electrical engineer is quoted as saying that, after depressurising the plane, the pilot probably made a climb which "accelerated the effects of depressurising, causing the rapid incapacitation and death of everyone in the cabin".

The oxygen masks in the main cabin are only designed to last 15 minutes in an emergency descent below 13,000ft.

The pilot would have had access to oxygen in the cockpit and could have flown for hours with the bodies of the passengers strapped into their seats.

Mr Langewiesche said: "The cabin occupants would have become incapacitated within a couple of minutes, lost consciousness, and gently died without any choking or gasping for air."

If you have been affected by any of the mental health issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.  Women’s Aid can be contacted on their national helpline 1800 341 900. Support for men who experience domestic violence is available from Amen on 046-9023718.

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