Malaysia suspected MH370 downed in murder-suicide: former Australian PM

The disappearance of Flight MH370 has long been the subject of a host of theories including that veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah had gone rogue. (AFP)
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Updated 19 February 2020

Malaysia suspected MH370 downed in murder-suicide: former Australian PM

  • The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished on March 8, 2014 carrying 239 people en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing
  • No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000-square kilometer Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led search

SYDNEY: Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has claimed “very top” level Malaysian officials believed vanished Flight MH370 was deliberately downed by the captain in a mass murder-suicide.
The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished on March 8, 2014 carrying 239 people — mostly from China — en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
No sign of the plane was found in a 120,000-square kilometer Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led search, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January 2017.
A US exploration firm launched a private hunt in 2018 but it ended after several months of scouring the seabed without success.
The disappearance of the plane has long been the subject of a host of theories — ranging from the credible to outlandish — including that veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah had gone rogue.
In an excerpt from a Sky News documentary airing Wednesday, Abbott claims he was told within a week of it vanishing that Malaysia believed the captain had intentionally downed the jet.
“My very clear understanding from the very top levels of the Malaysian government is that from very, very early on here, they thought it was murder-suicide by the pilot,” he said.
“I’m not going to say who said what to whom but let me reiterate, I want to be absolutely crystal clear, it was understood at the highest levels that this was almost certainly murder-suicide by the pilot — mass murder-suicide by the pilot.”
Zaharie’s family and friends have long strongly rejected such claims as baseless.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the former head of Malaysia’s civil aviation regulator, criticized Abbott’s remarks and said there was not sufficient proof to support the idea.
“It is only a theory,” Azharuddin, who led the regulator when Flight MH370 disappeared, said.
“You do this speculation and it will hurt the next of kin. The family of the pilot will also feel very bad because you are making an accusation without any proof.”
In 2016, Malaysian officials revealed the pilot had plotted a path over the Indian Ocean on a home flight simulator but stressed this did not prove he deliberately crashed the plane.
A final report into the tragedy released in 2018 pointed to failings by air traffic control and said the course of the plane was changed manually.
But they failed to come up with any firm conclusions, leaving relatives angry and disappointed.
Six passengers were Australian, including four from Queensland state, where Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week suggested authorities may pursue an inquest into their deaths.


Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

Updated 31 min 15 sec ago

Sanofi offers 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus fight

  • Proposals to put hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial

PARIS: French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said Friday it would offer 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, to governments worldwide if studies show it can safely to be used to treat COVID-19 patients.
Both hydroxychloroquine, which Sanofi sells under the brand name Plaquenil, and the related compound chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, are being studied worldwide as potential weapons in the coronavirus fight.
But proposals to put them to use immediately for more patients have proven highly controversial, with many experts warning there is not yet enough evidence of their safety or effectiveness against COVID-19.
A French doctor in particular, Didier Raoult, has raised hopes by treating patients with a combination of hydroxychloroquine (HQC) and the antibiotic azithromycin, an initiative that many health officials refuse to endorse in the absence of more rigorous studies.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron met Raoult and his team in Marseille to discuss their latest findings, though the president did not comment publicly on the meeting afterward.
Sanofi acknowledged that “interpretations of the available preliminary data on hydroxychloroquine in the management of COVID-19 differ widely.
“While hydroxychloroquine is generating a lot of hope for patients around the world, it should be remembered that there are no results from ongoing studies, and the results may be positive or negative.”
But chief executive Paul Hudson said in a statement, “If the trials prove positive, we hope our donation will play a critical role for patients.”
Other companies have also pledged to offer the drugs, with Switzerland’s Novartis proposing 130 million doses of chloroquine, and Israeli generic producer Teva promising 10 million doses of HQC for US hospitals.
Sanofi is also working on a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 94,000 people worldwide since cases were first reported in China last December.