Unknown blogger sparks online storm with warning of disaster before AirAsia plane went dark

Screen capture of a Reddit post, showing a loose translation of a post by an unknown blogger in a Chinese cyber forum which predicted the disappearance of the Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501.
Screen capture of a Reddit post, showing a loose translation of a post by an unknown blogger in a Chinese cyber forum which predicted the disappearance of the Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — A mystery blogger believed to be a Chinese national has stirred a frenzy online with claims he predicted the disappearance of the Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 nearly two weeks before it happened.

The original posts on a Chinese cyber forum has since spread to other international social networks including Reddit, where it has been loosely translated to claim that a shadowy global organisation had planned to take down the budget carrier, similar to how they had attacked two Malaysia Airlines planes, Flights MH370 and MH17 earlier this year.

“Black Hand hijacked and shot down MH370 and MH17. This has pretty much killed the 6th largest airline—Malaysian airline.

“Now the Black Hand is targeting AirAsia to ruin this airline because it too belongs to Malaysia. Given how powerful the Black Hand is, I suggest that all Chinese planning to travel, should avoid AirAsia, so that you don’t disappear like those on MH370,” according to a loose translation of the Chinese post by a Reddit member.

Some online users have said the term “Black Hand” is a metaphor for a covert organisation instead of being the name of a particular group.

“You could be happily vacationing, working, or studying aboard, but if you go on Malaysian airline or AirAsia, you’re dead, be careful everyone,” according to the warning.

The blogger reportedly urged readers to inform their family and friends to avoid taking any Malaysian airline.

An Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 with 162 people on board from Surabaya to Singapore flew off the radar midflight over the heavily-trafficked Java Sea in the early hours of December 28, nine months after MH370 disappeared.

The unknown blogger reportedly posted 39 more messages on the subject, which has been viewed by more than 650,000 people on the cyberforum, until December 17, following which all activity reportedly stopped on his account.

The original post was timestamped December 15, 13 days before Flight QZ8501 disappeared but sceptics believe the messages may have been edited, after the AirAsia plane went missing.

The latest conspiracy theory allegation follows other similar messages that had sparked a widespread anti-Malaysian sentiment following MH370, which went disappeared in the early hours of March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with all 239 people aboard—the majority of which were Chinese nationals at 153 — and remains missing.

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed on July 17 over Ukraine, believed by anti-aircraft missile. There were 283 passengers and 15 crew on board; none survived.

Flight QZ8501 had a total of 162 people on board, 155 of which were Indonesians, three South Koreans, one Malaysian, one Singaporean, one Frenchman and one Briton. No Chinese nationals were on board.

Aircraft debris and some bodies from Flight QZ8501 were discovered yesterday from the Java Sea off the coast of Borneo, about two and a half days after the A320 jet was reported to have lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control.

A search-and-rescue effort by nine countries involving at least 15 aircraft and 30 ships have yet to recover any survivors.

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