Could Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 possibly be safely on the ground — in Afghanistan? That is exactly the bizarre claim that surfaced in a Russian newspaper Saturday, citing a Russian “intelligence source” who says that all of the passengers on the missing jet are alive, but are their health is suffering because the “unknown terrorists” holding them are providing very little food.
At at a time when a massive search for Flight MH370 has zeroed in on an inhospitable region of the Indian Ocean about 1,200 miles off Australia’s west coast and multiple search vessels have detected signals consistent with those that would come from the “black box” of the missing jet, the new Russian source’s claim seems especially outrageous.
Admittedly, however, the all-out search has turned up no confirmed evidence that the plane is actually in the Indian Ocean, and the presumed black box signals have gone silent, with no “pings” detected since Tuesday.
On Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said that the continuing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could last an extremely long time — and may never find anything.
“I don’t want anyone to think that we are certain of success, or that success, should it come, is going to happen in the next week or even month,” said Abbot. “There’s a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty left in this.”
Another strange report also surfaced Saturday, saying that the co-pilot of the missing jet made a cell phone call from the flight deck of MH370 after the plane suddenly flew off course. But that report was quickly denied by Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
And then came the seemingly crazy Russian story. The source who supposedly spoke to the Russian publication Moskovsky Komsomolets said that the plane was taken by a terrorist group led by someone going by the name “Hitch,” and the plane is sitting on a road not far from Kandahar, near the Pakistan border.
The missing jet had a rough landing, the “source” said, and may have broken a wing. But all passengers survived the crash landing. The Flight MH370 passengers, under this Russian scenario, have been separated into seven groups and are housed in makeshift mud huts, but are being fed poorly.
The unknown terrorists separated 20 Asian passengers said to be some sort of technical experts from the rest of the group, and relocated them to Pakistan — according to this source, who said that the Flight MH370 pilot and co-pilot were not complicit with the terrorist plot and were forced to take orders from “Hitch.”
There has been no shortage of imaginative and implausible conspiracy theories about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, but the Russian report may be the first to come from a supposed intelligence source.