MH370, which was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China, on March 8, 2014, mysteriously vanished with 239 people onboard. Captain Zaharie Shah was in control of the plane when it last communicated with air traffic control at 1:19am over the South China Sea. However, moments later, the plane vanished from civilian radar screens following a routine handover from Malaysian to Vietnamese channels.
Aviation expert Clive Irving believes the plane finally hit the Indian Ocean at a remote area, following an uncontrollable fire on board.
MH370 had in its cargo hold five tonnes of mangosteens – a sweet tropical fruit about as big as a tangerine – along with 221kg of lithium-ion batteries.
He revealed how the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing had highlighted an “immediate and urgent risk” tied to transporting lithium-ion batteries, which are used in cellphones and laptops, on passenger flights.
However, Mr Irving believes these two items could have mixed together during the flight and caught fire – causing an explosion or fire in the plane, forcing it to lose oxygen or crash.
He said in 2015: “The cargo hold has a special liner intended to contain a fire until it is extinguished.
“A battery fire might well have been intense enough to breach the liner and, in doing so, allow the airflow to weaken the concentration (and therefore the effectiveness) of the Halon gas used as a fire suppressant.
“The organic electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries decomposes at high temperatures, generating very toxic fumes typically containing compounds of fluorine and even arsenic.”
However, a report released in 2018 went out of its way to dismiss these claims.
The document, produced by The Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370, said it was ”highly improbable”.
It reads: “There were concerns that the mangosteen extracts could have got into contact with the batteries and produced hazardous fumes or in a worst-case scenario caused a short circuit and/or fire.”
After carrying out tests, Malaysia’s Science & Technology Research Institute for Defence was “convinced that the two items tested could not be the cause in the disappearance of MH370,” the report claims.
The batteries were not registered as dangerous goods as their packaging adhered to guidelines.
They went through customs inspection and clearance before the truck was sealed and left the factory, but were not given any additional security screening before loaded onto the plane.
The report also disputed speculation that the mangosteen fruits were out of season during the shipment, which led some to suggest their inclusion in the cargo was suspicious.