At 12:42 a.m. on a quiet, luminous night of March 8, 2014, a Boeing 777-200ER operated by Malaysia Airlines took off from Kuala Lumpur and turned toward Beijing, soaring to its assigned cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.
Fariq Hamid (27) the first officer, was flying the aeroplane. This was a training flight for him, the last one before he would soon be fully certified. His trainer Zaharie Ahmad Shah was the pilot in command and one of the most senior captains at Malaysia Airlines.
In the cabin were 10 flight attendants. They had 227 passengers to care for, consisting of five minors. Most of the passengers were Chinese; of the rest, 38 were Malaysian, and in descending order the others came from Indonesia, Australia, India, France, the United States, Iran, Ukraine, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Russia, and Taiwan.
Up in the cockpit, while First Officer Fariq flew the aircraft, Captain Zaharie handled the radios. The arrangement was standard. At 1:01 a.m. he radioed that they had levelled off at 35,000 feet—a superfluous report in radar-surveilled airspace where the norm is to report leaving an altitude, not arriving at one.
At 1:08 the flight crossed the Malaysian coastline and set out across the South China Sea toward Vietnam. Zaharie again reported the plane’s level at 35,000 feet.
Eleven minutes later, as the aeroplane closed in on a waypoint near the start of Vietnamese air-traffic jurisdiction, the authority at Kuala Lumpur Centre radioed,
“Malaysian three-seven-zero, contact Ho Chi Minh one-two-zero-decimal-nine. Good night,”
to which Zaharie answered;
“Good night. Malaysian three-seven-zero,”.
He did not read back the frequency, as he should have, but otherwise, the transmission sounded normal.
It was the last the world heard from MH370.
The pilots never checked in with Ho Chi Minh or answered any of the subsequent attempts to raise them.
Primary radar relies on simple, raw pings off objects in the sky. Air-traffic-control systems use secondary radar. It depends on a transponder signal that is transmitted by each aeroplane and contains richer information—for instance, the aeroplane’s identity and altitude—than primary radar does.
Five seconds after MH370 crossed into Vietnamese airspace, the symbol representing its transponder dropped from the screens of Malaysian air traffic control, and 37 seconds later the entire aeroplane disappeared from secondary radar. It was 1:21 a.m., 39 minutes after take-off.
The controller in Kuala Lumpur was dealing with other traffic elsewhere on his screen and simply didn’t notice. When he finally did, he assumed that the aeroplane was in the hands of Ho Chi Minh, somewhere out beyond his range.
The Vietnamese controllers, meanwhile, saw MH370 cross into their airspace and then disappear from the radar. They apparently misunderstood a formal agreement by which Ho Chi Minh was supposed to inform Kuala Lumpur immediately if an aeroplane that had been handed off was more than five minutes late checking in. They tried repeatedly to contact the aircraft. The attempts were futile.
By the time they picked up the phone to inform Kuala Lumpur, 18 minutes had passed since MH370’s disappearance from their radar screens.
What came up was an exercise in confusion and incompetence. Kuala Lumpur’s Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre should have been notified within an hour of the disappearance. By 2:30 a.m., it still had not been. Four more hours had elapsed before an emergency response was finally begun, at 6:32 a.m.
Five years now, the enigma surrounding MH370 has been a focus of the continued investigation and a source of sometimes feverish public speculation. The loss devastated families on four continents.
That a sophisticated machine, with its modern instruments and redundant communications, could simply vanish seems beyond the realm of possibility. It is hard to permanently delete an email and living off the grid is nearly unachievable even when the attempt is deliberate. A Boeing 777 is meant to be electronically accessible at all times.
The disappearance of the aeroplane has provoked a host of theories. Many are absurd. All are granted life because, in this age, commercial aeroplanes don’t just vanish.
This one did, and years later its whereabouts remain a mystery. Even so, an enormous deal about the disappearance of MH370 has come into sharper view and reconstructing much of what happened that night is possible. The cockpit voice recorder and the flight-data recorder may never be recovered, but what we still need to know is unlikely to come from the black boxes. Instead, it will have to come from Malaysia.
While all hope around resolving the missing Airbus mystery is seemingly lost, a Zimbabwean self-proclaimed prophetic couple left many astounded when they claimed publicly that they know the location of the vanished plane.
Addressing members of the press at Media Centre in Harare on Monday, the 1st of July, Prophet Forgiveness Nyakuweka and wife Cecilia claim that God has revealed to them the exact location of the missing Malaysian plane and that by their divine timeframe, they were set to leave on the 6th of July going to Malaysia to assist the government recover the Airbus.
A sprout from ZAOGA FIF Ministries having left after his parish pastor foiled his stellar ministry efforts, Nyakuweka said that he had always had the honour of receiving divine information at many times.
“Several years ago, I had the privilege of getting information, especially in all major events. For me, it was funny. I didn’t take it seriously,” he said.
Among other events, he claimed to have presaged the coming to power of the President of the United States Donald Trump, the rise of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the catastrophe of Nigerian TV evangelist TB Joshua’s church hostel which claimed many lives.
On why he never talked about it openly before, the young prophet said God forbade him, saying his time hasn’t arrived.
“A lot of things were happening, but God was saying no, my time has not yet come. I wasn’t even able to broadcast or be on social media.”
It was only this year that God heralded to him that his time has come and that he wanted to shine a global spotlight on him by revealing to him one of the world’s biggest mystery of the 21st Century.
“About 2 or 3 weeks ago, I was home. We (his wife included) were seeing a lot of things every day at our home. We stay in Borrowdale. We were seeing angels on a daily basis to the extent that we could not manage this situation. I went to Herald and I invited these guys to come over to my house because the angels were everywhere; in the lounge, even in sleeping [room], they were aside. So, these guys were making fun of me (when I told them).”
Bearing the burden of being an object of derision by members of the 4th estate, the prophet gave up and took off, only to be confronted by God again upon reaching home.
“Then the Lord said to me, “I want you to be known now. Your time has come. Which way would you want to be known? Do you want the people of Zimbabwe to know you first or the people from outside of Zimbabwe?”
“I did not answer,” said the prophet.
He recalled God saying that he would open an international door for him as he said the majority of Zimbabweans are prejudiced towards clerics, particularly with the rise of contemporary preachers who are making headlines for all sort of issues.
God, according to the prophet’s narrative, asked if he has heard of the missing Malaysian plane before.
Said the prophet;
“God said to me, “I want you to go to Malaysia and recover that plane,”” a tale he took to his baffled wife who had not heard a thing about the missing MH370.
Nyakuweka, owing to his wife’s oblivion about the matter, thus asked God to show her how the “tragedy” ensured, which he did, as she testified.
Realising the magnitude of the matter and the feasibility of the mission that God wanted them to carry out, the couple said that they confronted God to be clearer about their mission and disclose to them the exact directions and location of the plane.
“In the spirit, my wife saw the angel giving me the map, and I went to the lounge to study the map,” claims the prophet.
“God was now telling us where the plane was, especially the distance. This plane, like what God told us, it is on the seabed. Because it is heavy and [given] the timeframe of its [disappearance], it is in now halfway sinking in the sand. We now know where it is, especially the distance from the shore, how many kilometres into the sea,” claims the husband.
Since the plane disappeared, the hunt for it has changed in scope many times, starting in the South China Sea. At its largest, it covered 7.68 million sq km (2.96 million sq miles) – a total of 2.24 million square nautical miles. This was the equivalent of 11% of the Indian Ocean and 1.5% of the surface of the Earth.
But after the area where the ‘pings’ thought linked to the missing MH370 were detected was ruled out, efforts turned to review search data and surveying the sea floor using specialist equipment.
Eight countries have been assisting – Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Malaysian authorities, who also liaised with the FBI, INTERPOL and other international law enforcement agencies led the investigation.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) oversaw the underwater search while the day-to-day search operations were run from Australia’s Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre.
The Australian government also contracted a Dutch firm Fugo Survey to conduct the deep sea search, using its vessels to search a swathe of the Indian Ocean where the plane was presumed to be located.
Members of China’s Civil Aviation Administration and officials from France’s Office of Investigations and Analysis for the Safety of Civil Aviation were also involved in the investigation.
The French lent expertise from the two-year search for the flight recorders from the Air France Airbus A330 which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in ten years ago, while the British company Inmarsat, along with the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch provided detailed satellite data analysis to aid the hunt.
In 2018, a US firm Ocean Infinity resumed the search for the missing plane soon. The exploration firm would not be paid for the search itself but will receive millions of dollars if successful.
Regardless of how expanse the search was, it did not locate the plane and prophet Nyakuweka is convinced that it was because they were searching in the wrong direction.
“When they searched for this plane, they were searching in the wrong direction, altogether. The Lord told me about the latitude, a lot of things, the details so that if I give that detail to a pilot or to anyone in the aviation, they can pick up where the plane is.”
In yet another vision, the couple said they were shown how the plane would be retrieved from the seabed: drawn out by its tail.
Confident enough about the sacred information they wield, the couple, accompanied by a family friend, went to the Malaysian embassy where they demanded to see the Ambassador.
As fate would have it, they could not meet with the ambassador as he was absent. They were entertained by a Public Affairs person who told them that the missing Boeing 777-200ER was now a “closed chapter” to their exasperation.
“What do you mean that it’s a closed chapter?” the prophet anxiously quizzed the attendant who then requested that they put their “things in writings”.
“We went home and waited,” he added.
They soon grew weary of waiting, as their “divine clock” was ticking and the embassy has to this day not gotten back to them.
A fervent Nyakuweka, who currently belongs to no church sect, believes the slow processing of the matter at the embassy is the work of the dark world trying to incapacitate his mission.
“The Devil is trying to fight this,” said he, resolutely, “You know, the issue of the missing plane is spiritual. They have all the technologies in the world but could not detect where this plane is because this is spiritual.”
A hugely Islamic state that Malaysia is with approximately 19.5 million Muslim adherents (about 61.3% of the population) the state although it guarantees freedom of worship, conversely banishes and sanctions non-Muslim proselytism, but encourages conversions to Islam and remunerates them in order to facilitate the reduction of the non-Muslim groups.
The Zimbabwean prophet surmises that it is such a spiritual milieu that is hindering his mission. He claims there are invisible “principalities” that are questioning how such an event as major as retrieving a missing plane if done by a Christian minister, will mislay Muslims’ beliefs that there is only one God, Allah and one prophet Muhammad is only the messenger of God.
With the door shut roughly in their face at the Malaysian embassy, the prophet said that it was yet again the Lord who ordered them to turn to local media for attention.
In his supposed conversations with God, the prophet said that at one time he asked God why he has to recover the plane now and not years ago if he was so keen on bringing an end to this mystery.
“He said, “I heard the cry of those relatives. I want to make a closure to this issue. I want to send you there for My Glory.” So we have come here to help the Malaysian government to recover the missing plane, that they could have closure to this issue.”
As have become the norm among the modern-day evangelicals sects to exploit fortune off their followers, Prophet Nyakuweka denied that his out-of-the-blue attempt to reveal the location of the missing plane was not a publicity stunt meant to fundraise for a leisure trip in a foreign land, emphasising that it was borne out of the need to bring an end to the mystery.
Should he want to raise such money for a holiday, he would be selling spiritual merchandise like anointing oil and bracelets to his believers, as is done by other mega-church clerics in the Southern African country, he inferred.
“We are not asking for money. We want to recover the plane. We are not here for the money. God can give us money. We are asking for the closure. If this Malaysian government can allow us to set our foot into their country, we can now help them. We are not trying to fundraise here.”
Asked why go all the way to recover a missing plane in as far as Asia when Zimbabwe also have cases of missing people like journalist and political activist Itai Dzamara who has not been heard from since 2015, the prophet said he cannot dictate what to work on as God was the one in charge of what needs to be done, where and when.
Prophet Nyakuweka’s revelation about the MH370’s mystery came at a time when William Langewiesche, a pilot turned writer, claims it will never be solved.
Wrote Langewiesche in The Atlantic:
“Finding the wreckage and the two black boxes may accomplish little. The cockpit voice recorder is a self-erasing two-hour loop, and is likely to contain only the sounds of the final alarms going off, unless whoever was at the controls was still alive and in a mood to provide explanations for posterity. The other black box, the flight-data recorder, will provide information about the functioning of the airplane throughout the entire flight, but it will not reveal any relevant system failure, because no such failure can explain what occurred.”
His comments follow theories that Captain Zahaire Ahmad Shah had committed suicide and killed 238 passengers on board.
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