Book claims MH370 accidentally shot down

Author supports theory that links accident with joint Thai-US military exercise in South China Sea

SYDNEY – About 71 days after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared, the first book about the disaster will go on sale on Monday with a theory about what might have happened, as the international search continues for the aircraft, an Australian newspaper reported on Sunday.

Flight MH370 The Mystery, written by author and journalist Nigel Cawthorne, doesn't claim to have any answers but to some extent supports the theory that the aircraft may have been accidentally shot down during a joint Thai-US military exercise in the South China Sea, The Sun Herald reported.

Searchers were then possibly led in the wrong direction to cover up the mistake, it suggested. “In an age where a stolen smart phone can be pinpointed to any location on earth, the vanishing of this aircraft and 227 passengers is the greatest mystery since the Mary Celeste,” the publicity for the book reads.

The book records the events, emotions and theories unfolding on a backdrop of fruitless searches. Cawthorne says in the introduction that almost certainly relatives will never be sure what happened to their loved ones. “Did they die painlessly, unaware of their fate? Or did they die in terror in a flaming wreck, crashing from the sky in the hands of a madman,” he questioned.

He said that this raises the significance that around the time the plane's transponder went off at 01.21, New Zealander Mike McKay, working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Thailand, saw a burning plane. He links that to the joint Thai-US military exercise going on in the South China Sea with personnel from China, Japan, Indonesia and other countries.

“The drill was to involve mock warfare on land, in water and in the air, and would include live-fire exercises,” he writes. “Say a participant accidentally shot down Flight MH370. Such things do happen. No one wants another Lockerbie [Pan Am flight 103 by terrorists in 1988 allegedly in retaliation for a US Navy strike on an Iranian commercial jet six months earlier], so those involved would have every reason to keep quiet about it.”

He suggested through anonymous and contradictory sources, they might release misinformation, leading people to search in the wrong place in an environment so hostile that it would be unlikely anything would ever be found. “After all, no wreckage has been found in the south Indian Ocean, which in itself is suspicious,” Cawthorne writes.

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