the remote Maldives island of Kuda Huvadhoo. Source: Google Earth
the remote Maldives island of Kuda Huvadhoo. Source: Google Earth

Maldives locals hear 'roaring plane' on day MH370 vanished

RESIDENTS of the remote Maldives island of Kuda Huvadhoo have reported seeing a "low flying jumbo jet" on the morning of the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Several residents of the Dhaal Atoll island told Haveeru on Tuesday that they saw a "low flying jumbo jet" at around 6:15am on March 8.

They said that it was a white aircraft, with red stripes across it - which is what the Malaysia Airlines flights typically look like.

Eyewitnesses from the Kuda Huvadhoo concurred that the aeroplane was travelling North to South-East, towards the Southern tip of the Maldives - Addu.

They also noted the incredibly loud noise that the flight made when it flew over the island.

"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 eyewitness.





Malaysia Airlines' 'heartless' in moving out relatives

ANGRY  relatives labelled Malaysia Airlines "heartless" after being told their rooms at a 5-star resort hotel in Cyberjaya where they had been staying since last week were pre-booked for the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix from this weekend.

It also emerged last night that a flight simulator taken from the home of one of the missing pilots held software for five practice runways scattered around the Indian Ocean - where the search is now focused.

About 15 relatives had taken up the offer by Malaysia Airlines to travel to Kuala Lumpur to wait for news on the missing flight, including three relatives of Auckland man Ximin Wang. Mr Wang's family have since returned to New Zealand.

The New Zealand Herald understands that relatives are now deciding whether to go to relocated hotels yet to be booked by the carrier.

"It is hard enough waking up every day, and now they want to move us," said one woman. "They are really so heartless."

Hotel rooms are hard to come by in Kuala Lumpur due to the influx of international media covering the missing plane and people there for the race.

A support worker said it was tough for the families to be split up because they relied heavily on each other for support.

Auxiliary police and guards have been seconded to watch over the entrance of the hotel in a bid to block the media from accessing the relatives, but one woman spoke to the Herald briefly when she stepped outside the hotel.

She felt like a prisoner, she said, and was being monitored all the time and being instructed not to speak to the media.

As suspicions harden that the plane was hijacked, investigators have been examining virtual flight paths used on a simulator built by Zaharie Ahmad Shah, one of the two pilots on board the flight.

Malaysian news outlet Berita Harian reported that software found included the Male International Airport in the Maldives, three airports in India and Sri Lanka, and one belonging to the United States military base in Diego Garcia.

All have runways of 1000m.

A Malaysia airlines plane is being pulled at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
A Malaysia airlines plane is being pulled at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. EPA - Ahmad Yusni

At the weekend investigators confirmed that the Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted during its overnight flight.

They established the jet continued flying for six hours, but there has been no sign of it, its 227 passengers or 12 crew since.

The turn was programmed into the aircraft's computer navigation system, probably by someone in the cockpit, the New York Times reported last night.

Rather than manually operating the plane's controls, whoever altered the path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer situated between the captain and the co-pilot, according to officials.

The computer is called the Flight Management System.

It directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight.

It is not clear whether the plane's path was reprogrammed before or after it took off, the Times said.

Hijacking, sabotage, or pilot suicide have not been ruled out.

Backgrounds of passengers and staff associated with the flight are being checked but the investigation is still heavily focused on pilots Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 57, and Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27.

Missing Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah is pictured on a visit to Auckland in 2012.
Missing Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah is pictured on a visit to Auckland in 2012.

Neighbours of Captain Shah yesterday remained staunchly supportive and described him as jovial and generous.

One neighbour said he loved to cook.

"We all know he's really good at making rendang and other Malay dishes and would share it around," she said.

"None of us believe any of the reports that he's responsible for the plane's disappearance."

The pilot's 27-year-old daughter has just flown back from Australia, where she now lives, to be with the family.

Security guards said the family had moved out of the house.

At least 26 countries are now assisting in the ground, sea and aerial search for the plane.

An RNZAF P-3 Orion has also joined the search and was yesterday concentrating on an area in the Indian Ocean, about 3000km southwest of Perth.

10 days later, Thailland's military admits it may have seen plane

FEARS are growing that the hunt for missing Flight MH370 is being hampered by failures by many of the countries involved to work together on the search.

10 days after the aircraft disappeared, Thailand's military said yesterday that its radar detected a plane that may have been the Malaysia Airlines jet, minutes after its communications went down, but did not share the data earlier because officials "did not pay any attention to it" and were not specifically asked for it.

Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn admitted Thai authorities could not be sure the aircraft picked up by the radar was the missing plane carrying 239 passengers and crew, but the new information raised further questions about the effectiveness of search efforts, which are being coordinated by Malaysian authorities.

Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.40am Malaysian time on 8 March, destination Beijing.

The plane's transponder, which allows air traffic controllers to identify and track it, stopped communicating at 1.20am.

At 1.28am, Thai military radar "was able to detect a signal, which was not a normal signal, of a plane flying in the direction opposite from the MH370 plane," back toward Kuala Lumpur, Montol said.

The plane later turned right, towards the Malacca strait.

When asked why it took so long to release the information, Montol said "…we did not pay any attention to it. The Royal Thai Air Force only looks after any threats against our country," adding that Malaysia's initial request for information in the early days of the search was not specific.

Relatives desperate for information on the fate of loved ones on board the missing jet have reportedly threatened to go on hunger strike if the authorities in Kuala Lumpur are not more forthcoming.

"What we want is the truth," one woman said, after a meeting with Malaysian authorities, according to the BBC. "Don't let the passengers become the victims of a political fight."

The families of passengers missing on Flight 370 for more than 11 days are being pushed out of their Kuala Lumpur hotel, as they wait for news of their loved ones.

More on this story at The Independent