Diego Garcia a Focus of Malaysia Flight 370 Search in Indian Ocean

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 09:05 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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There are new questions about Malaysian Flight 370 and if it reached an area near the isolated Indian Ocean coral atoll of Diego Garcia, the Malaysian Digest reported Wednesday.

Diego Garcia, which sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean, some 2,500 miles from New Delhi, is home of a U.S. Navy support facility with a landing strip, according to the Digest, and there had been a report that the flight was seen at a low altitude over the Maldives Islands at 6:15 a.m. on March 8.

However, the Malaysian acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, told to reporters in Kuala Lumpur that Maldives authorities relayed to them that reports of such a sighting was inaccurate, according to the English edition of HaveeruOnline.com.

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"I can confirm that the Malaysian chief of the defense force has contacted his counterpart in the Maldives, who has confirmed that these reports are not true," Hishammuddin told journalists.

Diego Garcia, a footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean, is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

The MalayMailOnline.com reported Tuesday that the flight's captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had loaded five Indian Ocean practice runways into his home flight simulator, including the Male International Airport in Maldives and Diego Garcia, along with runways in India and Sri Lanka.

"We 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," a source told the MalayMail on Tuesday.

The source told the newspaper that investigators were still analyzing information found on the Zaharie's flight simulator software. Malaysian authorities had searched Zaharie's home and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, earlier.

CNN reported U.S. officials saying the missing flight search will intensify far into the Indian Ocean.

"This is an area out of normal shipping lanes, out of any commercial flight patterns, with few fishing boats and there are no islands," the official told CNN about the jet and its 239 passengers missing for more than 12 days now.

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