MH370 Passengers "Most Likely" Died of Hypoxia Before Crash, Report Says

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 27 2014 2:45 PM

MH370 Passengers "Most Likely" Died of Hypoxia Before Crash, Report Says

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Australian and Malaysian officials at an MH370 press conference in May.

Photo by MARK GRAHAM/AFP/Getty Images

A 55-page report released by the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau on Thursday said that passengers and crew aboard the missing Malaysia Flight MH370 “most likely” died from hypoxia before crashing into the ocean with the plane on autopilot.

While the ATSB’s report contained no new evidence, investigators say the plane's steady flight path and the lack of radio communiction with its pilots are reminiscent of other cases in which an unexpected loss of oxygen was known to have caused a crash.

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"Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370's flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction," the report said. It does not appear to have suggested why passengers and crew might have lost access to oxygen.

The Boeing 777 vanished on March 8 soon after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 passengers and crew. A new phase of the search for wreckage of the plane in the Indian Ocean is expected to begin in August.

Irene Chidinma Nwoye is a writer and former Slate intern in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.

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