ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (THE STAR/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP) - Philippine authorities insisted Tuesday (Oct 13) a Malaysian Airlines jet that went missing last year had not crashed onto a remote Filipino island, after a man’s claims that wreckage had been found there made headlines.
The precise fate of Flight MH370, which went missing in March last year with 239 people on board, remains a mystery, and the latest reports appeared to be yet another false lead based on no evidence.
While a wing part from the jet was found washed up on a beach in the Indian Ocean in July, the rest of the plane has yet to be found.
Malaysian media reported at the weekend that a Filipino man told Malaysian police that his relatives had found wreckage of a plane, with skeletons inside, in the jungles of the Philippines’ remote Tawi-Tawi island chain.
Manila has dismissed claims of any air crashes or findings of wreckage in its territory.
Captain Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, commander of Naval Task Force 61, said on Monday that they deployed a gunboat to investigate the claims of a man about sightings of wreckage believed to be the missing MH370.
"We deployed a gunboat there because of the news. We interviewed the people at the Sugbay Island, the fishermen, but they have no knowledge about it," said Capt Bacardo.
"Even the populace residing in the island for the longest time have no knowledge of this," he said.
Capt Bacardo was surprised by the information, but said he was checking on it.
"If we are to check (thoruoughly), it has to be a deliberate effort.
"It's a big island, 3.5 miles (5.6km) long, but we did an initial investigation with the locals," he told the Philippine media.
On Saturday, a report was lodged with the Sandakan authorities about the sighting of a plane wreckage with a Malaysian flag on it.
Mr Jamil Omar, 46, had gone to the police with information he received from his aunt, who claimed to have been told about it by her relatives who were hunting for birds at the Sugbay Island in Tawi Tawi last week.
It was reported that skeletal remains fastened to their seats were seen inside the plane.
The man said it could be part of the flight MH370 that disappeared in March last year, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew onboard.