Tim Barlass — SMH May 18, 2014
Seventy-one days after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared, the first book about the disaster will go on sale on Monday with a theory about what might have happened.
Flight MH370 The Mystery, which is made available by NewSouth Books in Sydney, doesn’t claim to have any answers but to some extent supports the theory that the aircraft may have been accidentally shot down during a joint Thai-US military exercise in the South China Sea. Searchers were then possibly led in the wrong direction to cover up the mistake, it suggests.
“In an age where a stolen smart phone can be pinpointed to any location on earth, the vanishing of this aircraft and 227 passengers is the greatest mystery since the Mary Celeste,” the publicity for the book reads.
The Sun-Herald is the first media outlet in Australia to see the work, written by author and journalist Nigel Cawthorne. It records the events, emotions and theories unfolding on a backdrop of fruitless searches.
Cawthorne says in the introduction that ”almost certainly” relatives will never be sure what happened to their loved ones.
”Did they die painlessly, unaware of their fate? Or did they die in terror in a flaming wreck, crashing from the sky in the hands of a madman?”
He says this raises the significance that around the time the plane’s transponder went off at 01.21, New Zealander Mike McKay, working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Thailand, saw a burning plane. He links that to the joint Thai-US military exercise going on in the South China Sea with personnel from China, Japan, Indonesia and other countries.
”The drill was to involve mock warfare on land, in water and in the air, and would include live-fire exercises,” he writes.
”Say a participant accidentally shot down Flight MH370. Such things do happen. No one wants another Lockerbie [Pan Am flight 103 by terrorists in 1988 allegedly in retaliation for a US Navy strike on an Iranian commercial jet six months earlier], so those involved would have every reason to keep quiet about it.”
He suggests through anonymous and contradictory sources, they might release misinformation, leading people to search in the wrong place in an environment so hostile that it would be unlikely anything would ever be found.
”After all, no wreckage has been found in the south Indian Ocean, which in itself is suspicious,” Cawthorne writes.
”Now I’m not saying that’s what happened but if a black box is found, who is to say that it is from Flight MH370? Another black box could have been dropped in the sea 1000 miles from Perth while the search was going on in the South China Sea. In these circumstances, with the amount of disinformation abroad, it is best to be sceptical.”
Ms Burrows, the mother of Brisbane man Rod Burrows who was travelling with his wife, Mary, said on Friday the book was premature.
”Nobody knows what happened so why would anyone want to put out a book at this stage?” she said.
”There’s absolutely no answers. It’s devastating for the families. It’s 10 weeks tomorrow and there’s nothing,” she said.
”There are so many theories that I only want to believe one, that they were all unconscious and didn’t know what was going on.
”That’s my only theory. That keeps me sane. All I want is for somebody to find a bit of plane. My husband wants a black box and I want a bit of plane to let me know just where they are.”
Penguin will soon release a book on the mystery to be written by aviation author Christine Negroni. She wrote Deadly Departure on TWA Flight 800, about a plane that crashed in the Atlantic near New York in 1996, killing 230.
Writing on her blog she says she has discussed the flight with French air accident investigator Olivier Ferrante.
He told her: ”So far it is a crash with no airplane, no bodies, no crash site, no physical evidence. It is a virtual crash until a piece of wreckage is found.
Courtesy Peter Myers