What a strange (and sad) week!- 7 days, about 4 hours sleep per night, fixing for a major U.S news service. Hectic stuff.
It all started at 8am Saturday 8th March, when the call comes through – an aircraft has gone missing and a major news outlet needs ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground. The call came from Crea-TV www.crea-tv.com boss, Othello Khanh, asking me to spring into action to assist him and the crew – who were on their way from various locations around the world.
All we knew about Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, was that it had taken off from Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing, and approximately 1-2 hours after taking off, it disappeared – and most likely off the coast of Vietnam. Thankfully for our news client, we are based in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), so were in the best location to be able to provide support.
The weekend was spent watching twitter feeds, news updates, making contact with Foreign Affairs officials and preparing our local staff for what could be a very busy week – we weren’t surprised by the ‘long-hours’ to come! By Monday afternoon we had two producers, 1 camera operator, 1 sound operator and 1 technician working on the story from HCMC – a ‘fixer’ and camera operator working out of Kuala Lumpur, and a third team with ‘fixer’ and camera operator in Bangkok Thailand. The MH370 story was moving so quickly, that we had to cover all sides of the Gulf of Thailand.
Check out the initial MH370 timeline here – http://abcnews.go.com/International/timeline-missing-flight-mh370/story?id=22912595
The story and theories of MH370’s disappearance has changed so many times – I could not for the life of me, remember every detail. What has resonated with me is this – the International news crews and productions teams will not release any new information, not until they have confirmed (and this being the operative word) every piece of information is ‘fact’. On the other hand, we have psuedo/semi-professional journalists hearing rumours and writing whatever the hell they like. Which only adds fuel to speculative theories and creates more work for the professional journalists.
Our teams helped the news services follow many angles – In Vietnam we followed up on the search and rescue efforts, managing to get our crew and reporter on a 45 year-old Antinov Cargo plane searching in the Eastern Sea (South China Sea) see the report below; In Malaysia we followed stories relating to the pilots, and covered the Malaysia Airlines and Department of Transport press conferences; and in Thailand we tracked down leads on the ‘stolen passports’ and tickets purchased by these passengers who gave more support to the hijack theory.
What we know now – It has been confirmed by cross-correlated radar data, that MH370 did infact turn around in the Gulf of Thailand, flew over the Malaysian peninsula, across the Malacca straights and into the Indian Ocean, and this has only come to light on day 6 of the search! (I have a sneaky suspicion that the National Security Agency (NSA) in the states has known all along – through Satellite Electronic Intelligence collection capabilities, but can’t provide that info immediately, which would reveal their massive intelligence collection capabilties).
So as the story (and search) shifts from Gulf of Thailand, Southern Vietnam to the Indian ocean, our support to our client ramps-down. We are now on standby if any further information is to come out of this region of SE Asia. Our thoughts are with the families of those missing – we hope there is closure for all soon.
Check out one of the news pieces here –