Missing MH370: They 'wannabe' first to crack the case

Missing MH370: They 'wannabe' first to crack the case
A misleading satellite image of a plane on Google Maps.

At 7.48am on Tuesday, my restless sleep was awakened by a WhatsApp message that so and so's brother-in-law working for Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, had found the missing MH370 plane.

"My brother-in-law was using a Microsoft mapping system and he thinks he found the missing plane in a jungle. Can I e-mail it to you?" wrote my friend.

"Thanks," I replied, telling myself to have an open mind, as you never know if she were onto something. So I gave her my e-mail address.

I reached for my smartphone, launched Gmail and clicked the link. It showed a satellite image of a plane somewhere in the jungle near Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu.

I then sent a WhatsApp message to her, "Can ask him if he used Google Maps to locate the plane?"

"Okay, will do," she replied. "Waiting for a reply from Seattle. Will text you to confirm."

"Okay," I said and went back to my precious sleep.

Ten minutes later, she sent a WhatsApp message: "(Brother-in-law) confirmed he used Google Maps. Why the heck is a jet plane parked in a jungle/plantation unless it is for something illegal? Why not land at Terengganu airport?"

I replied: "Google Maps don't use live satellite images. The images are a few months old. Probably satellite caught a plane flying over that area."

Since the mysterious disappearance of the Boeing 777, with 239 people on board, after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8, almost everybody in the world including "Raja Bomoh Sedunia" Ibrahim Mat Zin have been trying to locate the plane.

Several concerned citizens had also called The Star, believing that they have discovered the missing airplane after scrolling through the Google Maps satellite images.

Don't they realise that even the newly-opened second Penang bridge is not on Google Maps yet, I thought. If only Google Maps can locate their brains!

Astounded that there are people out there (some owning smartphones cleverer than them) who are so gullible, thinking they can use Google Maps to find the missing Boeing 777, I asked a colleague to do a story on the matter.

"Missing MH370: Don't rely on Google Maps to search for plane, says Google" was a headline on The Star Online.

I tweeted a link to that story. And my Twitter friend Sharifah Arfah (@sharifaharfah) replied: "guilty as charged :p".

Curious to know why she used Google Maps to locate the plane, I interviewed the 40-year-old journalist via Twitter.

"I guess I'm fascinated with this plane because its disappearance is so baffling. Google Maps is handy to imagine where the plane could be. But I was under no illusion that I'll actually find it," she said.

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