Navy looks for trace of long-missing Malaysian plane but comes up empty
THE PHILIPPINE Navy in Tawi-Tawi continues to conduct search operations to verify the reported sighting of wreckage believed to be that of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, on Sunday said naval vessels were dispatched to Sugbay Island off South Ubian town where the wreckage was reportedly seen even as locals there told authorities they were not aware of a plane crash in the area.
Guerrero said Lt. Col. Leo Frincillo, acting commander of Joint Task Group Tawi-Tawi, Monday reported that the police on Sugbay had no information about a wreckage.
Guerrero said the search had reached nearby Languyan town.
“The barangay captain of Tumbagaan (in Languyan) likewise reported negative information,” Guerrero said.
“A Navy gun boat that conducted search operations in coordination with local fishermen also found no sign or indication of a plane crash,” he said.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board.
A massive search was conducted over the southern Indian Ocean, with French authorities recovering a piece of the plane’s wing on the shore of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
A report from the The Star/Asia News Network said the police in Sabah, a state in Malaysia, received a report saying that a plane wreck with the Malaysian flag painted on it was found on Ubian Island.
Guerrero said they had not located the source of the story.
Malaysian MH370 was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when it disappeared in March.
Capt. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, commander of Philippine Navy Task Force 61, said his team checked with locals on the island, who said they had no knowledge of a wreckage or a plane crash in the area.
“They have been living there for the longest time and they have no knowledge of it. We were surprised by this report,” the official said.
The Philippine Navy has yet to check the entire island, although initial interviews with residents seemed to dispute the reports by Malaysian media.
“If we are to check, it has to be a deliberate effort since that is a big island, around three miles long, but our initial checks with the populace are turning out to be negative,” Bacordo said.
Navy Commander Roy Vincent Trinidad, the chief of staff of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said that for as long as there is no clear visual of the reported wreckage “we consider this a false alarm.”
“But confirmation is ongoing. But as we speak, there is nothing solid to say about this,” Trinidad said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.