x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Maldives police probe reports of sighting of missing Malayasian Airlines flight MH370

Meanwhile, new radar data from Thailand gave Malaysian investigators more potential clues Wednesday for how to retrace the course of the missing airliner, while a massive multinational search unfolded in an area the size of Australia.

Visitors take pictures with a placard against the backdrop of a board dedicated to passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and their families, in Petaling Jaya. Samsul Said / Reuters
Visitors take pictures with a placard against the backdrop of a board dedicated to passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and their families, in Petaling Jaya. Samsul Said / Reuters

NEW DELHI // Police in the Maldives are probing reports that islanders in the tourism paradise saw a “low-flying jumbo jet” on the day the missing Malaysia Airlines plane vanished.

In a statement released late Tuesday, police said they were investigating a report on the Haveeru news website that local residents had spotted a large plane flying over the remote southern island of Kuda Huvadhoo on March 8.

“The police are looking into the reports in the media saying that a low-flying airplane was sighted above Kuda Huvadhoo,” the statement said.

Several alleged sightings of the Boeing 777, which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board, have proved to be false alarms and reports of debris at sea have also turned up nothing.

Mr Haveeru said witnesses on Kuda Huvadhoo had seen a white aircraft with red stripes flying towards the southern tip of the Maldives.

“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,” the website quoted one witness as saying.

Meanwhile, new radar data from Thailand gave Malaysian investigators more potential clues Wednesday for how to retrace the course of the missing airliner, while a massive multinational search unfolded in an area the size of Australia.

The information emerged during checks of radar logs on Monday — nine days after the Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared — after a request from the Malaysian government, according to Air Marshal Monthon Suchookorn.

An “unknown aircraft was detected at 00:28 (local time, 1:28 am Malaysian time), six minutes after MH370 vanished” in the South China Sea, moving southwest towards Kuala Lumpur and the Strait of Malacca, he said.

That timing corresponds with the last transmission from the Boeing 777’s transponder at 1:21 am Malaysian time, which relayed information about the plane’s altitude and location.

It’s not confirmed that the aircraft is MH370,” he said, adding he was unable to give “exact times” of the later sightings.

Twenty-six countries, including the UAE, are now involved in the hunt which covers a vast arc of land and sea, in a northern corridor over south and central Asia, and a southern corridor stretching deep into the southern Indian Ocean towards Australia.

* Agencies