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April 24th, 2014
08:40 PM ET

MH370: Passengers' cell phone data could solve mystery

Did passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 try to send messages the night the plane vanished?

If they did, those final goodbyes to family members and friends could also be crucial to the investigation.

If and when the plane is found, forensic experts say personal cell phones will be key to solving one of the biggest aviation mysteries in history.

But can data be retrieved from cell phones that have been at the bottom of an ocean for more than six weeks?

CNN's Ted Rowlands is OutFront with the story.


Filed under: International • Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 • News • Tech
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. jith

    I noted from some writing that relatives of the passenger in mh 370 sayes that their phones are still ringing. Then why cant be locat those signals. Why tracking technology were not used in the plane.

    August 22, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  2. Gortex Boy

    Ralph Waldo Emerson was on the plane.

    May 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  3. Jpmaan

    Maybe someone had an Ipone on the plane and they could log on "Find my IPhone" for any loacation data?

    May 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  4. Batman

    They should just call Aquaman....he lives near where they're saying it went down......I bet that seahorse riding waterboy could find that plane.

    May 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Reply
    • Tara

      Haha you're brilliant

      May 19, 2014 at 9:51 am | Reply
  5. Mo

    Does the new search area include Andaman and Nicobar islands?

    April 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  6. Mo

    Can ping sounds be projected to a different area from its host? I have not heard anyone ask this. Also, where is the new search area? Please show a picture of the area.

    April 28, 2014 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  7. Eric McQuaid

    I'm not an expert but aren't the black boxes subjected to the same pressures? And the data on those chips survives...

    If they can recover the devices, the silicon in them will yield data.

    April 26, 2014 at 3:06 am | Reply
  8. Sunshine

    One week after its disappearance, I wrote on many blog/websites the plane had LANDED. It headed NORTH and landed on one of Pakistan's borders, probably near Afghanistan. This is one well-organized hijacking.

    I think the pilots are innocent. The Uyghur on board who took simulator flying lessons is a high possibility coupled with the two Iranians.

    Upon landing, the first order of business would be to take out the 'black' boxes and relocate them to divert search of the plane. Gather all cell phones and destroy or relocate in case of GPS. Separate passengers in groups of 5 to 7 people for adequate control.

    Passengers are worthless except to be put back on aircraft once it takes off again. Difficult to shoot down a plane with passengers seen through the windows...

    I didn't follow the story once they directed everyone South in the ocean. It made no sense. An insult to my intelligence.

    This plane will show up again as a massive WMD (bio/neuro). Israel would be only 4 hours flight and the closest worthwhile target for Islamists, therefore very possible.

    Finally, I didn't appreciate DON LEMON'S mockery of such a suggestion weeks ago.

    April 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Reply
    • Tara

      Wait. How do you know? If you've got proof, than why haven't you reported this to higher-higher???

      May 19, 2014 at 9:53 am | Reply
  9. bo

    cant they get records of last text and phone calls from the service provider. they dont really have to find the phone to get the info, right?

    April 25, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Reply
    • Kyle

      I think what is being implied is that these text were not delivered due to no service. Either MSG Failed or delayed. If they get the phones that data could give an idea of what happened. I don't believe the company which manages the phone would be able to see the text MSG until it has been delivered.

      May 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  10. ablooter

    I mentioned this on Twitter weeks ago and now CNN is stealing my idea for profit. SHAME ON YOU CNN, CONTENT THEIFTS.

    April 25, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  11. dorado

    what is it with bowties, does it give scientists more credibiity?

    April 25, 2014 at 11:04 am | Reply
  12. Collin LaMey

    How do you know they were conscious to send any messages? how do you know that #MH370 WAS NOT obliterated and will never be found? I am telling you that last ping that came 6 or 7 hrs after the flight disappeared was the Malaysian and /or Australian Military recovering that black box. There is no way in hell your military spot something on radar and not investigate. Saying you did not deem it a threat so you ignored it is ridiculous. That's not human nature. NO JURY IN THE WORLD WOULD BELIEVE THAT!!!!

    April 25, 2014 at 1:39 am | Reply
    • Sunshine

      It wasn't obliterated. There would have been debris everywhere and impossible to control its scattering. I hope they post my earlier comment.

      April 25, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  13. CL King

    Erin,
    A comment about the victim's cell phones containing viable data. Let's do a little math here. Assume the depth of wreckage at 3500 meters or about 11,500 ft. The ocean produces 1 atmosphere of pressure (14.697 psi) for every 33 feet in depth. That's about 348.48 atmospheres (+1 atm. for sea level). So, 349.48 atm. x 14.697 psi / atm. = 5,136.31 psi. If the phone surface area is roughly 12.5 sq. in. per side (estimated from my Samsung phone and ignoring phone thickness) this results in 5,136.31 psi x 12.5 sq. in. = 64,203.84 lbs. of force on EACH side of the phone. Phone is CRUSHED, everything wet, cold, corroded; well you get the picture. Can the Shedd aquarium really hope to reproduce this in the rig we saw? I think you might want to repeat this experiment using more robust equipment.

    April 24, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Reply
    • Sunshine

      What is it that people can't comprehend the plane is NOT in the ocean?

      April 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Reply
      • Mo

        I do think they should be checking deserted islands. It is not impossible for them to have landed successfully on land.

        April 28, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Reply
      • Tara

        Because people need proof. There is a lot at stake here and no one wants to believe something that isn't true. False hope can devastate a person.

        May 19, 2014 at 9:56 am | Reply

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