Police have recorded statements from 10 people, including three “witnesses”, over an alleged plane crash at sea near Pulau Tikus, fronting the Flamingo Hotel, in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, on Sunday.
Northeast district police chief Assistant Commissioner Soffian Santong said more individuals will be called in for questioning as the investigation into the case progresses.
He said of the 10 people interviewed, only three, in their 50s, claimed to have witnessed the ‘incident’.
“The trio, who were sitting 20 metres apart from one another, alleged to have seen an object, like a black matchstick box, falling from the sky before crashing at sea. They said something which looked like a balloon appeared before the object sank. However, they said they could not determine if they had seen the aircraft’s wings.
“Three of them gave almost similar accounts of the incident, which is why we can’t just dismiss the matter.
“The investigation is ongoing to determine the authenticity of the claim. However, the search and rescue (SAR) operation will only resume when we have new leads,” he said at the northeast district police headquarters today
He added that the witnesses were sitting about one to 1.5km from the site of the purported crash.
Police were alerted on Sunday afternoon that an aircraft had crashed into the sea near Pulau Tikus. Preliminary information suggested that it could have been a private aircraft.
A search and rescue (SAR) mission, comprising Marine police, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the Fire and Rescue Department, and the Civil Defence Force, was immediately activated after the report was received at about 2pm.
However, until 6.30pm yesterday, nothing was found.
A privately-owned helicopter was flying along the path at the time of the alleged incident. But Soffian today confirmed that the helicopter had safely landed in Subang after flying in from Kedah.
He said police had also checked with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), which confirmed that they had not received any report of missing aircraft or a crash.
“Until 11am today, no one has come forward to lodge any missing person’s report.
“The marine police have also interviewed several fishermen; while we interviewed several beach boys (who are usually very alert), but none had seen anything,” he added.
Social media has been abuzz over claims by a man who said he saw the plane crash.
He said the incident happened very fast, and he saw smoke coming out from the aircraft before it crashed into the sea. – NST