GEORGE TOWN, Sept 21 — Police have called off the search for a light aircraft believed to have crashed into the sea near Tanjung Bungah until they get fresh information on the incident that is said to have taken place yesterday.
Northeast District Police chief ACP Soffian Santong said today the police and other agencies will resume the search and rescue (SAR) operation if there are new clues to back the claim by several people who were on the beach at 2pm yesterday.
“After receiving information from the witnesses on the incident, we conducted a SAR operation and collected information from the public — two fishermen and a security guard — there who informed us that an object resembling a dark-coloured plane had plunged into the sea.
“The distance between the three witnesses, in their 50s, who saw the incident was about 20 metres. They claim to have seen an object the size of a matchbox crash into the sea near Pulau Keramat. The incident allegedly took place about 1.5 kilometres to 5km off the beach,’’ he told a press conference here.
He said the police also questioned a beach boy but he said he did not see any aircraft crash into the sea while Marine Police Force personnel monitoring the area said anglers and fishermen there at that time did not see anything either.
Based on an initial investigation, the three witnesses were consistent in their claim on what they had seen — an object with a balloon on its tail crash into the sea, he said, adding that the police will conduct further investigations into the report as they cannot, as yet, dismiss it as a false report.
He also said that the police have opened an investigation paper to probe the validity of the report made on the incident and his team will talk to more people who had been in the area then.
“The SAR operation until 6.30pm yesterday did not find any clue, debris or the aircraft,” he said.
Soffian said that until 11am today, the police had not received any report from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) or any airline on the disappearance of a pilot or light aircraft.
“The police also checked with the CAAM and, until today, all planes that took off returned or arrived safely at their destinations. A yellow helicopter that was reported to have been seen before the time of the alleged incident near Penang waters also reached Subang safely. So, it was not the helicopter that originated from Kedah that was involved (crashed) in the incident,” he said.
Soffian urged people who have information or saw the incident to come forward or channel the information to the police and not to speculate on it.
The police launched the SAR operation yesterday after receiving a report from a man saying that he and his friend saw a light aircraft crash into the sea near Tanjung Bungah.
A social media site had earlier viralled that a man lodged a police report on how he and a friend saw a light aircraft crash into the sea while they were on the beach in Tanjung Bungah. — Bernama