Malaysian Minister of Defence Hishamuddin Hussein has been informed by Maldivian authorities that rumoured sightings of Malaysian flight MH370 over Kudahuvadhoo are false.
“Regarding reports that the plane was sighted in the Maldives, I can confirm that the Malaysian Chief of the Defence Force has contacted his counterpart in the Maldives, who has confirmed that these reports are not true,” Hishamuddin told the press today.
The defence minister’s comments come after eyewitness reports emerged yesterday of a low-flying aircraft in Dhaal atoll just hours after the Malaysian jet’s disappearance on March 8.
“I saw a flight flying very low and it had a red straight line in the middle of it. The flight was traveling north-west to south-east,” Adam Saeed, a teacher at Kudahuvadhoo school, told Minivan News.
Maldivian authorities have acknowledged the reports, with police taking the lead in investigating the sightings – though both the Maldives Airports Company (MACL) and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) have maintained that no irregular radar activity has been noted.
“The Maldives National Defence Force has been monitoring Maldivian territory with special attention since the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines’ MH370 airplane,” read an MNDF press release last night.
“In the search so far, no military radar has seen the flight. And the MH370 airplane has not been seen from the photos and information of radars established in Maldivian airports.”
“The Maldives National Defence Force has been providing all necessary cooperation to the efforts of the Maldives Police Service as well as international agencies concerning [the disappearance of the flight],” concluded the statement.
Police have announced the start of their investigations, with Kudahuvadhoo officer Mohamed Imad confirming that a team of investigators was being dispatched from the capital Malé to assist with the ongoing local investigations.
A spokesman for the MACL yesterday said that there had been no “credible” sightings or radar evidence of the missing flight, while some witnesses interviews by Minivan News expressed skepticism over the veracity of their neighbours claims.
Local news outlet Haveeru – which broke the story yesterday – said that similar reports had been received as early as March 9, but had been dismissed as lacking credibility.
Regarding communications with Malaysian authorities, Minivan News was unable to obtain a response from either the MNDF or the Ministry of Defence at the time of press.
Yesterday’s reports all described a low-flying plane, heading in a south-easterly direction between 6:15am and 8am (Maldives time).
Malaysian Defence Minister Hishamuddin has today confirmed, however, that the search will continue to focus on the two previously identified corridors.
The two arcs – one stretching between Thailand and Kazakhstan, the other south between Indonesia and the southern Indian Ocean – have been determined by locational ‘pings’ detected by a satellite revealing the flight’s last known location at 8:11am Malaysian time (5:11am Maldives time).