Details from the reported discovery of plane wreckage on a remote island in the Philippines have stirred suspicions it could be linked to the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Aircraft debris said to contain human bones was allegedly stumbled upon by birdwatchers in thick jungle on the coastline of Sugbay Island in the province of Tawi Tawi, Malaysian daily The Star writes.
Citing the as yet unverified report filed to Sandakan police on Saturday, it states: “They [the birdwatchers] managed to get near the wreckage where they found human bones. They also found skeletal remains in the pilot’s chair with the seat belt fastened.” Significantly, it also makes mention of the Malaysian flag, the colours of which are used in the livery of Malaysia Airlines.
"The man said he informed police as the wreckage could be that of an airplane that disappeared last year," it added.
Malaysia's Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said he is liaising with the Filipino authorities and stressed it could be several days before the claims are substantiated.
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Speaking to the Malaysia Chronicle, Malay Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai warned: “I have told the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to look into the report.
“We don’t know if the report is true, so we need to verify it first. Let’s not speculate and give space to the DCA to conduct its investigation.”
Free Malaysia Today writes the report was submitted to police by audio visual assistant Jamil Omar, 46.
Omar claims his nephew and a group of friends made the discovery last month and told his aunt, who informed him when she travelled to see him on the mainland last week.
The report claims the birdwatchers entered the fuselage of the plane and provided details of the alleged human remains found.
“There was a skeleton still in the pilot’s seat. The pilot had his safety belt on and the communication gear attached to his head and ears,” it said.
Some outlets claim a fabric Malaysia flag measuring 70x35 inches was taken from the aircraft, while conflicting reports say a small piece of the plane body itself with Malaysia Airlines colours visible was retrieved. Either way, the detail has prompted fresh speculation as to the fate of MH370.
Explaining the delay in passing the information on, Omar told Astro Awani: “The residents on the island hunt birds for food and build their houses on the water. They don’t watch television and as such they have no knowledge of the outside world.
“She [the aunt] was shocked to learn the item that was removed from the aircraft wreckage… was the Malaysian flag.”
Early indications suggest the Philippines Armed Forces are sceptical about the reports.
Captain Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, commander of Naval Task Force 61 told the Jakarta Post: "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.
He added: "If we are to check [thoroughly], it has to be a deliberate effort. It's a big island, 3.5 miles long... but we did an initial investigation with the populace."
Beijing-bound MH370, piloted by Captain Zaharie Shah, disappeared from radar with all 239 souls on board on 8 March last year, an hour into its departure from Kuala Lumpur.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan said drift modelling indicated that debris could have floated to the island from where they believed the missing plane crashed 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) southwest of Australia.
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