Philippine authorities insisted Tuesday 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.
Despite the report appearing to have little credibility, some media in Britain, the United States, Singapore and elsewhere picked it up, saying wreckage of a plane had been found on the island and it could be from MH370.
Philippine authorities said on Tuesday that no plane wreckage had been found, and questioned the credibility of the apparent police witness.
“I sent people to the site where it (the plane wreck) was supposedly seen and the results were negative,” the deputy police director of Tawi-Tawi, Superintendent Glenn Roy Gabor, told AFP by phone.
“There was someone who was spreading that story but it has no truth to it and the person spreading it has disappeared.”
Gabor said that if a big plane had crashed on Sagbay island, as the man reportedly claimed to Malaysian police, local residents would definitely have noticed.
“We interviewed the local people and they didn’t see anything. That is a small area. It is impossible they wouldn’t see something like that,” he said.
Tawi-Tawi governor Nurbert Sahali also released a statement saying no wreckage had been found.
The Boeing 777 mysteriously disappeared as it was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Authorities believed it crashed into the Indian Ocean, but a massive investigation has failed to find the main body of the plane or determine why it went missing.
The only major breakthrough came in late July when a two-metre (almost seven-foot) wing part washed up on a beach on Reunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean.
Authorities later confirmed it was from MH370, in the first confirmation that the plane had met a tragic end in the Indian Ocean. But the discovery has not led to any further hard evidence of what happened to the plane.
In the absence of proof, there have been many false leads and conspiracy theories that have been given widespread publicity.