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Missing Flight MH370’s Path Suggests Crew Became Incapacitated

The path of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 suggests its crew may have become incapacitated or deprived of oxygen, officials said Thursday. A report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said investigators had compared the doomed Boeing 777’s behavior – including its unchanged path across the Indian Ocean and lack of radio communication - to the final stages of previous plane crashes in order to pinpoint where it might have crashed.

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Investigators considered the pattern of planes whose pilots had become unresponsive or were suffering from hypoxia, which occurs when lack of oxygen leaves flight crews incapable of performing basic tasks. “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. However, it added: "These assumptions were only made for the purposes of defining a search area,” adding that there was “no suggestion” Malaysian investigators “will make similar assumptions” when determining why MH370 disappeared.

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- Alastair Jamieson