The PJ Tatler

MH370: A Maldives Connection?

A strange new possibility has turned up in the case of the missing airliner. Reports are coming out of Maldives that residents there saw a large airliner fly low a few hours after MH370 disappeared.

3.52 Reports from a Maldives news organisation that islanders saw a “low flying jumbo jet”. The Haveeru news website reports witnesses saw a plane flying low at around 6.15am on March 8. It was apparently flying north to south-east. A witness told the news organisation

QuoteI’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.

It’s not just me either, several other residents have reported seeing the exact same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too.


12.46 Intriguing new line from The Malay Mail Online.

Police scouring Capt Shah’s flight simulator – which he installed in his home – have found five Indian Ocean practice runways.

One is in the Maldives.

One is on Diego Garcia.

The other three are in India and Sri Lanka.

QuoteWe are not discounting the possibility that the plane landed on a runway that might not be heavily monitored, in addition to the theories that the plane landed on sea, in the hills, or in an open space.

So the pilot had a Maldives runway among his Indian Ocean practice spots? Might mean something, might mean nothing. But I think we can rule India, Diego Garcia and Sri Lanka out. Diego Garcia is home to a key US Navy base. If the plane went there, it would never have disappeared. Sri Lanka is a fairly large landmass right off the coast of India. If the plane went there, it would not have disappeared. Ditto for India.

But Maldives, which is an independent country, is a small string of tropical coral atolls out in the middle of nowhere. I went there on a vacation back in the 1990s — it’s an odd little place, stunningly beautiful, timeless and fairly backward and disconnected from the rest of the world, at least back then.  It’s a mostly Muslim country that has gone off into a somewhat Islamist direction over the past decade or so. Maldives is a good 500 miles or so off India’s coast.

Once you land in the capital city, you have to take a boat ride to get anywhere. Our boat ride took, if I remember correctly, about three hours to get out to the resort-island we stayed at. The island was the resort, and vice versa. You could walk across the whole island in about 8 to 10 minutes, and around the whole island’s edge in about 45 minutes.

To get to Maldives, you typically pass through of one of the larger airports in the region, such as Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That’s where MH370 originated on its flight to China. Kuala Lumpur is just under 2,000 miles from Maldives’ capital city, Malé.



Going against Maldives as a spot to hide a 777, it only has a couple of runways on which such a large airliner can land, and one of those is in the capital city, Malé. If that’s the runway that the MH370 pilot used in his simulator, rule it out. He isn’t going to land there without attracting notice. Malé is the kind of place where the presidential palace is surrounded by armed guards, who also patrol the streets and make themselves and their AKs very visible. If the pilot used the other runway, which is in the northern end of the island string, well, there might be something.

Maldives is made up of dozens if not hundreds of small islands. Many of them are large enough to have resorts on them, but not much else. Some have little towns or fishing villages. We toured one of those; the town looked like something out of a spaghetti Western. Many of the islands are uninhabited. Those islands usually have spectacular beaches, interior jungles, and make great spots for day trips to go snorkeling or have a beach party, or to hide people you don’t want found, whether they are living or dead. A landing, a few boats, and you could have nearly 300 castaways tucked where they’re unlikely to be found.

I’ve come around to thinking that the simplest explanation — an onboard fire forced the pilot to turn, and the plane eventually crashed into the Indian Ocean — will turn out to explain the flight’s disappearance. But supposing the Maldives villagers really saw an airliner pass, and supposing that the pilot practiced landing on that remote airstrip in the north, well, MH370’s fate sounds more and more like something from Lost.