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The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370  has now been classified as a criminal investigation, according to Malaysia’s police chief. He also cautioned that the investigation may still not arrive at any concrete conclusions.

Specifically, authorities believe the plane's deliberate and abrupt turn off course could not have been simply the result of an accident. However, officials also announced on Wednesday, none of the passengers are suspected of any wrongdoing, leaving the investigation to focus solely on the crew at this time.

The current consensus is that radar and satellite data show the flight turning off course and flying back across Malaysia before heading out over the Indian Ocean. That change of course is being investigated as a “criminal act.” There is no information as to who committed the supposed criminal act.

Meanwhile, lawyers have already begun contacting families of those on board about possible multi-million-dollar settlements in U.S. courts over the incident. One law firm is floating the idea of legal action against Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, although the obviously the lack of any real proof about what went wrong makes it unprecedented. From The New York Times:

The rush is on to secure compensation for families of the flight’s 227 passengers, about two-thirds of whom are Chinese. Insurance companies [in China] have already made payments to some relatives. On top of that, the families can expect to receive compensation from Malaysia Airlines because of guarantees in an international treaty. They can also opt to sue the airline for more damages, or sue Boeing or a component manufacturer. Any lawsuit could take years to conclude.

Some families are reluctant to take legal action or even accept the payments required by international treaties in an event such as this one, instead hoping that the plane will still be found or suspecting that there is still information being covered up.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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