In what could be the last chilling sighting of missing Flight MH370, an oil rig worker believes he spotted the Malaysian jetliner burst into flames Saturday morning.
Gold Coast Bulletin New Zealander Mike McKay, who is working on a rig operating in the Gulf of Thailand, was so certain he saw the ill-fated flight on fire that he emailed his employers, urging them to pass the information onto authorities.
“Gentlemen. I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines flight come down. The timing is right,” he wrote. “I tried to contact Malaysian and Vietnamese officials days ago. But I do not know if the message has been received. “I am on the oil ring Songa-Mercur off the coast of Vung Tau. “The surface location of the observation is Lat 08 22′ 30.20″ N Lat 108 42.22.26” E. “I observed (the plane?) burning at high altitude at a compass bearing of 265* to 275*”
Mr McKay is working on the oil rig Songa Mercur off Vung Tau, on the south east coast of Vietnam. This would put the plane in the same general area where a Chinese satellite has spotted a suspected crash site.
In his email to his employers on March 12 he claims he saw flames in the sky which quickly extinguished. “From when I first saw the burning (plane) until the flames went out (still at high altitude) was 10-15 seconds. There was no lateral movement, so it was either coming toward our location, stationary, or going away from our location,” he wrote.
“The general position of the observation was perpendicular/south west of the normal flight paths.” Mr McKay said the possible plane appeared to be in one piece.
“It is very difficult to judge the distance but I would say 50 to 70 kms along the compass bearing 260-277,” he wrote. “The sea surface current at our location is 2-2.3 knots in the direction of 225-230. “The wind direction has been E-ENE averaging 15-20 knots.
“(We see the con trails every day) and at a lower altitude than the normal flight paths or on the compass bearing 265 to 275 intersecting the normal flight paths at normal altitude but further away.” Michael Jerome McKay signed off with “Good Luck”.
Vietnam’s air traffic management deputy general director Doan Huu Giasaid has reportedly confirmed they received Mr McKay’s original email. “He said he spotted a burning [object] at that location, some 300km southeast of Vung Tau,” he reportedly said. Other Vietnamese officials have reportedly since dismissed the account after not finding anything in the water.
US ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff confirmed he spoke with Richard Beaton at Japanese Idemitsu Oil & Gas Co, who hired Songa Mercur to drill, and confirms Mr McKay’s email is real.
Vietnamese naval officer Le Minh Thanh told America’s ABC News that Vietnamese officials sent a plane to the area to investigate the man’s claims, but the search was fruitless.
However, Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford said superior Australian search aircraft should be sent to the area. Mr Hansford said Mr McKay’s account “made sense”. “It would be quite believable that, on an oil rig at that time of the morning with a clear sky, if he looked up he would see something lower than he thought and he’s seen it on fire and he’s given an exact position,” he said.
“The position he’s given is in the area that the Chinese have now found, which is nowhere near where the Malaysians have been looking and it’s where the Vietnamese, because of all the confusion with the Malaysians, have stopped looking.”