With just eyewitness accounts, cops probe mysterious reports of ‘plane crash’ off Tg Bungah

Northeast District police chief ACP Soffian Santong speaks to the press at the Northeast District Police Station in Penang September 21, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Northeast District police chief ACP Soffian Santong speaks to the press at the Northeast District Police Station in Penang September 21, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 21 — The police have opened investigation papers into reports of a purported airplane crash off the coast of Tanjung Bungah yesterday afternoon despite not finding any evidence of the incident at the site.

Northeast district police chief Assistant Commissioner Soffian Santong said there were no official reports of an airplane crash except for eyewitness accounts from three fishermen.

“We checked with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and they confirmed that they didn’t receive any reports of lost aircraft or an airplane crash,” he told reporters in a brief press conference today.

He added that as at 11am, the police have not received any other official reports of a lost aircraft or plane crash.

He said the police interviewed 10 people at the Tanjung Bungah beachfront where the incident reportedly occurred at about 2pm yesterday.

“Only three witnesses, in their 50s, claimed to have seen a black object resembling a light aircraft, which is the size of a matchbox from their point of view about 1.5km away, fall into the sea somewhere between the beach and Pulau Keramat,” he said.

He said the three men, all fishermen, were standing about 20m apart from each other.

“They claimed to have witnessed the black object falling into the sea, then a balloon appeared from it before it sank into the sea,” he said.

He said the police, the fire and rescue department and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency rushed to the scene after receiving a call at about 2pm about an airplane crash at Tanjung Bungah.

“We conducted a search along the coast about 2km from the beachfront and could not find any debris or signs of an airplane crash at the site,” he said.

He said the search was called off about 6.30pm as there was no evidence of any aircraft having crashed in the sea at the site.

He said they had interviewed the public at the beachfront and out of the 10, seven did not witness anything.

“We still opened investigation papers on this incident to investigate further as there were three witnesses accounts of the incident,” he said.

He called on those who know anything about the incident to come forward and inform the nearest police station.

He also called on those whose closed ones, who are pilots or aircraft crew, are missing to come forward and lodge police reports.

“For now, we can’t say this is false information yet; we are still investigating and we will be talking to more witnesses there,” he said.

The police will not continue search operations until they receive new leads into the case.

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