Maldive islanders saw low-flying jumbo jet, claim it was missing Malaysia Airlines plane

Published: March 18, 2014
Missing China Vietnam Maldives

Students stand next to a giant mural featuring missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 displayed on the grounds of their school in Manila’s financial district of Makati on March 18, 2014.

JONATHAN PEARLMAN
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Kuala Lumpur — The global hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight shifted Tuesday to a tiny island in the Maldives, where residents spotted a “low flying jumbo jet” hours after the aircraft disappeared.

Several witnesses in Dhaalu Atoll saw a plane heading south that bore the red stripe and white background of Malaysia Airlines planes.

The sightings, reported by a local news outlet, would have occurred more than seven hours after the plane, carrying 12 crew and 227 mainly Chinese passengers, lost contact with air traffic control and took its sudden westward turn during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of Saturday March 8.

“I’ve never seen a jet flying so low over our island before. We’ve seen seaplanes, but I’m sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly,” said an witness.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines plane possibly spotted flying over Maldives. Google Maps

“It’s not just me either, several other residents have reported seeing the exact same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too.” The chances of another aircraft of that size flying over the island at the time were, according to Maldives sources, very low.

Though authorities are yet to confirm the sighting, the plane’s pilot, Captain Zaharie Shah, is believed to have practised landing at Male International Airport in the Maldives on a three-screen flight simulator at his home. The machine has been seized by police.

Related Stories:

A report in a Malay language newspaper, Berita Harian, claimed Captain Zaharie also practised at three airports in India and Sri Lanka and a runway at the US military base on Diego Garcia.

Police would not confirm the details about the flight simulator yesterday.

However, Peter Chong, a friend of the pilot, insisted that there was nothing suspicious about the simulator and that Captain Zaharie invited many of his friends to use it. “He was not hiding it, he was open about it,” Mr Chong said. “He loves flying. He wanted to share the joy of flying with his friends.”

Captain Zaharie, a 53-year-old father of three, and his co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, a 27 year-old who was planning to marry his 26-year-old pilot girlfriend, Nadira Ramli, have been described by friends and family as flying enthusiasts who had no known links to extremism or psychological problems.

Authorities in Malaysia have confirmed that they believe the flight was deliberately interfered with and that its communications system intentionally disabled before the plane flew “invisible” for a further seven to eight hours.

China-Maldives

A young Malaysian boy prays, at an event for the missing Malaysia Airline, MH370, at a shopping mall, in Petaling Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur

They believe the plane’s sharp turn 40 minutes into the flight and the disabling of the communications system suggest an experienced pilot was in control. But the lack of any motive – and the disappearance of the plane – has left authorities increasingly mystified during a search that has lasted more than 11 days. As Malaysia appealed to countries in the two major search areas to share surveillance data, vital information emerged from Thai air force radars yesterday that revealed clues about the aircraft’s wayward path.

In what was a further example of the secrecy surrounding the investigation, Thailand’s air force said it detected a plane believed to be the missing MH370 flight, seven minutes after the plane’s transponder was turned off at 1.21am.

In a series of inexplicable movements, the flight reportedly headed back towards Kuala Lumpur, then turned right towards the Strait of Malacca – a sequence that corresponds with data captured by the Malaysian military.

Thailand’s Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn said the plane did not enter Thai airspace, and that the data was not released until now because “we did not pay any attention to it”.

China has increased its involvement and revealed yesterday that the 154 Chinese passengers aboard the flight had been cleared of “destructive behaviour”.

Huang Huikang, China’s ambassador to Malaysia, also told a briefing of the Chinese media that Interpol had cleared two Iranians aboard the flight who were travelling on false passports. This left 83 passengers as feasible suspects, including 10 crew members plus two pilots.

A further complication in the search for the plane is that the signals or “pings” from the black box – sent at a certain frequency, and only traceable within a certain distance – will only be sent for a month.

The Daily Telegraph learnt that the aircraft could have been located if Malaysia Airlines had paid just $10 for additional satellite information.

The airline, along with several international carriers, opted to transmit only minimal information rather than pay an additional small fee to transmit detailed flight data. “For 10 dollars, you could have told within half an hour’s flying time where the plane would have gone,” a source said.



Picture 1 of 54

In this photo taken April 29, 2014 provided by the Australia Defence Force, multinational air-crew and aircraft involved in operation "Southern Indian Ocean" are assembled for a photo at RAAF Base Pearce, in Perth, Western Australia. Seven nations, including Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., South Korea, Malaysia, China and Japan, have flew daily search mission out to the southern Indian Ocean in the massive multinational hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. AP Photo/Australian Defence Force, Cpl. Nicci Freeman


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

five hole main

Donated equipment from Vancouver on its way to hockey-mad northern India

KENT SPENCER VANCOUVER DESI The neat thing about a Canadian effort to donate hockey equipment to the Himalayas is that there is a lot of…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Hindi superstar Ajay Devgan to shoot parts of Bollywood blockbuster in Alberta

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD A highly anticipated Bollywood film will be using the snowy mountains of Alberta as a backdrop for a three-month shoot. Shivay, scheduled to begin shooting…
Continue Reading »

gandhi beer

Connecticut brewery says it will rename Gandhi-Bot beer after complaints from Indian-Americans

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut brewery will no longer use the name and likeness of Mohandas Gandhi on one of its beers…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

NHL announces that World Cup of Hockey will return next year in Toronto

By Stephen Whyno THE CANADIAN PRESS COLUMBUS, Ohio — The World Cup of Hockey is back with a new format as the NHL seeks to…
Continue Reading »

NHL announces that World Cup of Hockey will return next year in Toronto

By Stephen Whyno THE CANADIAN PRESS COLUMBUS, Ohio — The World Cup of Hockey is back with a new format as the NHL seeks to…
Continue Reading »

CBSA officers seize 17 kg of suspected heroin at Toronto s Pearson Airport

THE CANADIAN PRESS MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canadian border officials say 17 kilograms of suspected heroin was seized at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after a flight…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

shiamak

Bollywood dance guru Shiamak Davar gets Canadian dignitaries grooving with a dance lesson

VANCOUVER DESI A number of Canadian dignitaries got their very own personal dance lesson from the guru of Bollywood dance himself, Shiamak Davar, while attending…
Continue Reading »

FILE PHOTO: A nine-year-old Palestinian girl  suffering from scoliosis sits as her mother shows her back x-ray as she is treated by U.S. pediatric orthopedic surgeon Hugh Watts (L) February 18, 2004 at Al-Quds hospital, in Gaza City. Abid Katib/Getty Images

Seven-year-old Scoliosis patient in Western India cured by revolutionary surgery

IANS Mumbai  – A seven-year-old girl in Mumbai suffering from Scoliosis is the first in Western India to successfully undergo a new and revolutionary procedure…
Continue Reading »

Rashida Samji

Former Vancouver notary public fined $33 million for fraud related to multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme

JAMES KELLER THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — A former notary in Vancouver who allegedly spent almost a decade collecting at least $100 million from investors…
Continue Reading »

South Asian senior woman gets PR

After years of lobbying, 84-year-old South Asian woman secure in Canada

JEFF BELL TIMES COLONIST VANCOUVER ISLAND — Surjit Bhandal, the 84-year-old Saanich woman whose family successfully fought for her to be able to stay in Canada, has…
Continue Reading »

desi dance

Theatre school project still resonates 11 years later for Port Moody’s Anita Majumdar

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Port Moody’s Anita Majumdar had no idea her final theatre school project more than 10 years ago would end up defining…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Indian Bollywood film actress Jacqueline Fernandez poses during the launch of Scholl's latest innovation in foot care in Mumbai on January 22, 2015. AFP PHOTOSTR/AFP/Getty Images

Do you want to travel to Dubai with Jacqueline Fernandez?

DIBYOJYOTI BAKSI HINDUSTAN TIMES Several actors nowadays are known to take an active interest in the promotion strategies of their films. Another actor, who has…
Continue Reading »

DEVGAN

Hindi superstar Ajay Devgan to shoot parts of Bollywood blockbuster in Alberta

ERIC VOLMERS CALGARY HERALD A highly anticipated Bollywood film will be using the snowy mountains of Alberta as a backdrop for a three-month shoot. Shivay, scheduled to begin shooting…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is pictured here in a still from his latest espionage thriller, Baby. The movie has been banned in Pakistan. HANDOUT.

Akshay Kumar’s latest film Baby banned in Pakistan

HINDUSTAN TIMES Akshay Kumar’s espionage thriller Baby, which centres around an Indian spy’s mission to capture a terrorist from a West Asian nation, has been…
Continue Reading »