On the day that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, March 8 of last year, a number of residents on the Maldives — a tiny island nation in the northern Indian Ocean — reported seeing a low-flying “jumbo jet” roaring over their rooftops. And some even claimed that the mystery plane bore the distinctive blue-and-red markings of Malaysia Airlines.
The sighting had led to numerous alternative theories of the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. While investigators in charge of the official search for Flight MH370 believe that the plane ended up in an area in the southern Indian Ocean, some independent researchers believe the plane may have flown a more northern route instead.
One aviation technology expert, Andre Milne, claimed that the Maldives sighting was deliberate by whoever was in control of the airline, which he believes was actually flying toward the remote United States military island known as Diego Garcia as part of a planned “provocation.”
But now, the chief of The Republic Maldives civil aviation agency says that he has investigated the alleged Flight MH370 sighting over the island of Kuda Huvadhoo — one of 26 islands in the Maldives archipelago — in the early morning hours of March 8, 2014.
Now, Ibrahim Faizal says that he is sure that while the islanders saw a plane flying abnormally low that day, they did not see Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 but a smaller, local plane.
“To be honest, now I have no reason to believe that it’s the MH flight,” Faizal said. “I am more firm in my conviction after speaking to the island council now. This whole issue was confused by other matters like the sighting of a fire extinguisher — we found that this is not from any aircraft, let alone a B777.”
Faizal was referring to a single fire extinguisher that washed up on the beach on one of the islands, sparking speculation that the object was actually debris from the missing plane — which assuming it actually crashed in the Indian Ocean as investigators are convinced, has yielded no debris at all in almost 16 months since the plane’s bizarre and baffling disappearance.
“I am convinced now, given all the information and data we have, that it was not the MH but most likely the Island Aviation Bombardier Dash 8,” Faizal said.
Also this week is another setback to the search for the missing plane. The Australian-run Joint Agency Coordination Center in charge of the search said that the two remaining search vessels will leave the search area about 1,200 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia, next week — and will not return for at least two weeks as they refuel and resupply, leaving the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 stalled during that time.
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]