Three days ago, 239 souls were lost when Malaysia Airlines 370 vanished from radar. Theories abound of this being a latter-day Valentich disappearance, terrorism, and half-hearted gags suggesting the passengers and crew are now at the mercy of the DHARMA Initiative.
Just to get an idea of the preliminaries behind this incident, check out this radar playback of the moment Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared.
Let’s be realistic, only a handful of days have passed. Earth is a big place. Oceans are deep. No one’s going to find out the truth for a long while, and this bugs people in an age of instant results from Wolfram-Alpha, Google, and anonymous posters on the internet. Take Air France Flight 447, it crashed in 2009 and nothing was found for two years.
There is one curiosity and it’s hearsay. Intriguing hearsay, but speculation nonetheless.
One of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online.1
The bereaved called their loved ones’s phones, but voicemail didn’t pick up. According to Shanghai Daily, another man called his brother in the presence of journalists; the phone connected three times and then appeared to hang up.2
So I decided to check something out. I put my phone in “airplane” mode, called it, and the call went immediately to voicemail.
Next, I powered off my phone, called it, and the voicemail eventually picked up.
Last step was running the battery down to 0%, and gave myself a call. Same results as powering off my phone.
What could be going on in southeast Asia? Relatives don’t want to believe their relatives and friends are dead, clinging to every spark of hope they might be alive somewhere? Does the QQ carrier have wonky service, unlike America’s cellular network? Or could something different be going on?
If you’re curious, my carrier is AT&T, and I own a iPhone 3GS. I’d love to hear from you about your cellphone tests, especially if you’re outside of the United States. Drop us a line on Facebook, at Twitter, or in the comments below.