Perhaps the most shocking claim of Malaysian Airlines MH370 wreckage made so far became public this weekend, when a report out of the Philippines claimed that the plane’s destroyed fuselage had been found on that country’s island of Sugbai, in the southern Tawi Tawi province. According to the witness, the downed plane was filled with decomposing corpses.
But on Tuesday, authorities in the Philippines announced that they had debunked the report after a search by the country’s military in the Tawi Tawi region.
“Since yesterday, we deployed a gunboat there because of the news. We interviewed the people there, the fishermen, but they have no knowledge about it,” said Philippines Navy Captain Giovanni Carlo Bacordo.
A local police commander said that his team had visited the actual site of the supposed wreckage and there was nothing there.
“I sent people to the site where it was supposedly seen and the results were negative,” said Police Superintendent Glenn Roy Gabor. “There was someone who was spreading that story but it has no truth to it and the person spreading it has disappeared.”
The site in the Philippines is about 4,500 miles from the remote area in the Indian Ocean, where the Australian-led official search team believed that the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 went down in the water after veering west for some unknown reason as it flew a routine commuter redeye flight between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China.
The alleged Philippines wreckage site actually lies to the east of the Malaysia Airlines plane’s planned flight path, which would mean that the satellite data on which searchers base their belief that the Flight MH370 ended in the Indian Ocean is completely wrong.
On Wednesday, however, the mother of the boy who claimed to have found the corpse-filled wreckage said she was sticking by her son’s story. She went on to provide a gruesome description of the downed flight.
Though Philippine authorities said that residents of the Tawi Tawi region had no memory of an airliner crashing there, Siti Kayyam — whose son Raik claimed to have made the discovery sometime in September — said she did recall an extraordinary incident last year.
“I remember sometime last year we were sleeping, the whole village, when suddenly the whole island shook, the hills were shaking violently. We rushed out of our houses. We thought it was an earthquake or tsunami. But everything was silent except the sea. No fire. No booming sound,” she said in an interview, published in Britain’s Daily Express newspaper.
“After a while, we went back to sleep. I later heard about the missing aircraft but didn’t think that incident had anything to do with it, until my son, Raik, came home with the incredible story and the flag,” she said.
Her son said he discovered a Malaysian flag inside the downed fuselage, a flag that “smelled of corpses,” Kayyam said.
She said that her son described “a pungent smell” and “a lot of bodies” inside the fuselage — and that the decomposing remains of the pilot and co-pilot were still strapped into their seats and wearing their uniforms.
She said that when Raik tried to lift the hat off the head of one of the dead pilots, the flesh on the man’s jaw fell away and “just melted,” spooking the boy.
The boy and his companions apparently did not report whether the fuselage bore the identifying registration number of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200, 9M-MRO, which would have identified the plane, on an earlier flight.
The only confirmed piece of wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was a “flaperon” from a wing of the plane, which washed up on the French-controlled Reunion Island more than 4,500 miles southwest of the Tawi Tawi province.
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