A Timeline of the Malaysian Government’s Many, Many MH370 Screw-Ups

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Mistakes were made: Malaysia's prime minister, Najib Razak Photo: How Foo Yeen/2014 Getty Images

Three and a half weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished from the sky, the world is still waiting to find out what happened. Searching millions of square miles for broken plane parts is, of course, no simple task, but it’s only been complicated by the Keystone Cops routine put on by the Malaysian government. Upon news that officials couldn’t even correctly quote the four words uttered by the co-pilot before all communication with MH370 was lost, here’s a timeline of Malaysia’s mistakes since the plane disappeared.

March 8: Immigration officials allow two passengers to board flight MH370 with stolen passports.

March 8: The Malaysian military fails to notice that that the plane has made a sharp left turn, even though it flew over a radar facility.

March 8: The Malaysian government confirms reports that two people boarded the plane with stolen passports, then says it was actually four people, before revising it back down two.

March 9: Five hours after it happened, state-owned Malaysia Airlines finally confirms that MH370 has disappeared.

March 11: Malaysia’s chief of police withdraws the story that baggage was taken off the flight before takeoff because five people didn’t board. Turns out, all those who checked in boarded.

March 11: China calls out Malaysia for the slow pace of its search. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang says Malaysia needs to “step up their efforts and speed up their investigation.”

March 11: The search begins in the Malacca Strait, three days after military radar captured MH370 turning from its path and flying over the body of water.

March 12: Officials admit they’ve known all along that a mysterious plane, likely MH370, appeared on military radar flying on a westerly course. Still, they diverted resources to search east of Malaysia.

March 12: Vietnam suspends part of its search for MH370 after Malaysia’s government fails to respond to its repeated requests for information.

March 12: Malaysian police release photos of the two men who boarded MH370 with stolen passports and they both seem to have the same legs. A photocopying error is blamed.

March 13: Malaysian Transport Minister Seri Hishammuddin Hussein denies a WSJ report claiming the plane flew for as many as four hours after disappearing from tracking systems. The government would later accept that version of events.

March 15: Investigators finally confirm that the mysterious flight captured by military data is MH370 and call off the wasted searches underway in areas Malaysian officials already knew were not possible crash sites.

March 15: A week after the flight’s disappearance, authorities search the homes of MH370’s pilot and co-pilot.

March 16: India suspends its search as it waits for Malaysia to say whether it should be searching at all.

March 16: American officials tell the Washington Post that FBI agents are ready to go to Malaysia to help investigate the crash but their assistance hasn’t been requested.

March 17: Officials change the sequence of events concerning the switching off of the plane's communications system. Rather than insisting it happened before the co-pilot signed off with the words "Alright, good night," they said it could have happened after, which puts a damper on terrorist-pilot theories.

March 19: Family members of passengers stage a small protest at a press briefing and are forcibly removed by police who are accused of “manhandling” them.

March 24: Malaysia Airlines sends a text to the families of passengers that says, “We deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived.”

March 28: Four days after the above text, an official tell the families of passengers that he hasn’t discounted the possibility of survivors.

March 28: Malaysian officials tell the passengers’ families there is “sealed evidence” they cannot know about.

March 31: The Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation corrects early reports that the last communication from MH370 was "Alright, good night." The actual words were "Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero."