A safety report into the disappearance of flight MH370 has concluded that the plane was manually turned around mid-air, rather than being under the control of autopilot, and that “unlawful interference by a third party” could not be ruled out.

It also disproved theories that had suggested the pilot and first officer brought the plane down in a suicide mission, and accusations of mechanical failure.

However, the long-awaited report – which was initially described as the “final report”, although investigators then backtracked from that description – left the hopes of the families dashed after it failed to provide any concrete conclusions about the reasons the plane disappeared nor any indication where the wreckage might be.

Malaysia Airline Flight 370 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 a.m. local time on March 8, 2014 en route to Beijing. At 1:19 a.m. the crew sent a final radio transmission: “Goodnight, Malaysian three seven zero.”

Speaking at a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Dr Kok Soo Chon, the investigator in charge of the MH370 safety investigation, did not assign blame for the incident but laid out several protocols that were broken by the air traffic control in Malaysia and Vietnam that ensured the plane went missing for 20 minutes before anyone was alerted.

Kok said the team looked into the pilot and first officer’s background. They were qualified, well-rested and showed no signs of anxiety or stress, he said. The plane did not have a malfunction or defect that could explain the disappearance, he said.

Despite two exhaustive searches of the southern Indian Ocean, neither the fuselage nor any bodies have been found. The plane had 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. Only three small pieces of wreckage washed up on or near the east coast of Africa have been confirmed to be from the Boeing 777.

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