Tag Archives: Indian Ocean

Dhanushkodi – Fifty Years After the Cyclone of 1964


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A cyclonic storm now referred to as the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone or the Dhanushkodi cyclone started with the depression that formed in the South Andaman Sea on December 17, 1964. On December 19, it intensified into a severe cyclonic storm. From December 21, it moved westwards, 400 km to 550 km per day. On December 22, it crossed Vavunia in Sri Lanka with a wind speed of 280 km per hour.

On December 22-23 night, the cyclone moved into Palk Strait and made landfall in Dhanushkodi, at the southern tip of Rameswaram island, on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India. The devastating tidal waves that were 7 metres high submerged all houses and other structures in Dhanushkodi town  with heavy casualties.

On December 22, 1964, the tidal wave smashed into the Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger train and washed it into the sea while it was crossing the viaduct during the cyclonic storm.

 The railway track in Dhanushkodi destroyed by the cyclone of December 22, 1964
The railway track in Dhanushkodi destroyed by the cyclone of December 22 – 25, 1964.

More than 100 passengers drowned in the sea. The death toll was estimated to be anywhere between 115 and 200. The variation is due to the many ticketless travellers. The railway line running from Pamban Station to Dhanushkodi Pier was washed away.

The 1¼ mile-long Pamban Rail Bridge over the Pamban Channel, that links the Indian mainland with the island of Rameswaram was also badly damaged; 126 of its 145 girders collapsed. However, the lift span was barely damaged.

The Pamban bridge after restoration (Source: the hindu.com)
The Pamban bridge after restoration (Source: the hindu.com)

Most of the girders were salvaged from the sea and the Pamban viaduct was working once again in a span of just three months time.

The metre gauge branch line from Pamban Junction to Dhanushkodi was abandoned after the cyclone destroyed it.

Prior to the cyclone, Dhanushkodi was once a flourishing town. Then, the Railway line to Dhanushkodi, destroyed in the 1964 cyclone, went directly from Mandapam station to Dhanushkodi without touching Rameswaram. In those days Dhanushkodi had a railway station, a small railway hospital, primary schools, a post office, customs and port offices. There were hotels, dharmashalas (religious rest houses), and many textile shops that catered to the Hindu pilgrims and travellers to Sri Lanka.

A map showing the ferry route from Dhanushkod, Indiai to Talaimannar , Sri Lanka (Source:-Wikimedia Commons)
A map showing the ferry route from Dhanushkod, Indiai to Talaimannar , Sri Lanka (Source:-Wikimedia Commons)

Dhanushkodi is about 18 miles (29 km) West of Talaimannar, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). There was a steamer ferry service which operated daily from the pier on the south-east of the Dhanushkodi town to the pier at Talaimannar. The ferry transported travellers and goods, across the Palk Strait.

In the 1950s and 1960s, I used to travel to Ceylon by the Dhanushkodi-Talimannar steamer ferry.

The Indo-Ceylon Express, also known as the Boat Mail train, plied from 1915 to 1964 on a metre gauge track between Egmore Station in Chennai (then known as Madras) and Dhanushkodi. It took almost 19 hours to complete the journey of 420 miles (675 Km).

Ferry service from Dhanushkodi Pier to Talaimannar in the 1950s.
Ferry service from Dhanushkodi Pier to Talaimannar in the 1950s.

After the Boat Mail train reached Dhanushkodi Pier at 15:05 hours in the afternoon, the passengers after alighting from the train had to pass through the customs before boarding the ferry which used to leave the Indian shore soon after 16:00 hours. Depending on the weather, it took between 2 and 3½ hours to cross the very shallow Palk Bay and reach the Talaimannar Pier in Sri Lanka. The voyage used to be bumpy and nauseating when the sea was rough.

The name of the train changed from Indo-Ceylon Express to Rameswaram Express after the 1964 cyclone. Now, it is a 12-hour journey from Chennai to Rameswaram on a broad-gauge track.

On June 12, 2014, my wife and I along with relatives left Chennai on Rameswaram Express to attend a wedding at Pamban town. We reached Rameswaram the following day around 5:30 am and lodged in a hotel. We hired a van and left the hotel around 11:00 am to see Dhanushkodi.

After travelling for 20 minutes, we reached Dhanushkodi. Even 50 years after the cyclone of 1964, Dhanushkodi remains a dilapidated strip of land.

The driver stopped the van at a spot on the Indian Ocean side where many other vans carrying tourists were parked.

The driver said he cannot go farther as local regulations, meaning rules set by the local cartel of van drivers, forbids it. But the members of that association ply a number of their own vans to ferry the travellers to the end of Dhanushkodi and charge ₹100/- per person. At the end of the journey we paid ₹2,200/-.

After 35 minutes of a bumpy ride by van, on shallow waters and muddy tracts, we reached the tip of Dhanushkodi where Adam’s Bridge, a chain of sand shoals between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar begins. The distance from the tip of Dhanushkodi in India and Talimannar in Sri Lanka is about 18 miles (29 km). The Dhanushkodi fishermen say that some sand dunes are just 50 yards in length. Surprisingly, the smallest land border in the world, is a shoal in Palk Bay between India and Sri Lanka – just 45 metres in length.

An eerie stillness prevailed around us except for the chatter of the few tourists subdued by the sound of waves. There were a few marine birds pecking on the soggy earth searching for food and many sea eagles circling in the air ready to swoop on any prey they could spot in the shallow waters or on the muddy land.

We saw many Hindu pilgrims bathing in the Palk Bay. The Hindus believe that pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi (Benares / Varanasi) in North India would not be complete without having the ritual bath at the tip of Dhanushkodi, considered a sacred confluence of the Palk Bay and the Indian Ocean, before completing their pilgrimage to Rameswaram.

St. Antony's Church at Dhanuskodi devastated by the cyclone of 1964 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
St. Antony’s Church at Dhanushkodi devastated by the cyclone of 1964 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

It was heartrending to see only thatched huts and no buildings with standing walls. The only walls we saw were the dilapidated walls of St. Anthony’s church and of a school devastated during the cyclone of 1964.

Trinkets and ornaments made from seashells (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Trinkets and ornaments made from seashells (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The main trade other than fishing was the sale of conch shells, and trinkets and ornaments made of shells sold at exorbitant prices to tourists and pilgrims.

Eventually, we left Dhanushkodi around 2:30 pm with a heavy heart after having seen the ravages wrought by the 1964 cyclone.

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India and Day 26 – Part 3: The Devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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December 26, 2004 – Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

On Sunday, December 26, 2004, an undersea megathrust earthquake, known as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake occurred at 00:58:53 UTC in the Indian Ocean with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, between Simeulue in the Aceh province of Indonesia and mainland Indonesia. The earthquake with a magnitude of Mw 9.1–9.3, is the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph.

The duration of faulting, between 8.3 and 10 minutes, was the longest ever observed. The behemothic quake caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) and triggered other minor earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

The tsunami was then known by various other names such as: “The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,” “South Asian tsunami,” and “Indonesian tsunami.” Since the tsunami occurred on December 26, it was also known as the “Christmas tsunami” and the “Boxing Day tsunami.”

December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (Source: all-that-is-interesting.com)
December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. (Source: all-that-is-interesting.com)

The earthquake triggered a tsunami, considered to be one of the deadliest in history, which inundated coastal communities with waves up to 100 feet (30 meters) high and killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

Costlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source: academic.evergree.edu)
Coastlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source: academic.evergree.edu)

The huge waves racing at the speed of a jet aircraft took fifteen minutes to seven hours to reach the various coastlines. The waves hit the northern regions of the Indonesian island of Sumatra immediately. Thailand was struck about two hours later, despite being closer to the epicentre because the tsunami waves travelled more slowly in the shallow Andaman Sea off its western coast. About an hour and a half to two hours after the quake, Sri Lanka and the east coast of India were hit. The waves then reached the Maldives.

Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Indian Ocean had a devastating effect on India. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs about 18,000 are estimated dead.

The following table compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a total of 227,898 people died. According to this table, in mainland India and in its territories, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 12,405 people died in the tsunami, around 5,640 are missing and 647,599 people have been displaced.

Figures compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Country where
deaths occurred
Confirmed Estimated Injured Missing Displaced
Indonesia 130,736 167,799 n/a 37,063 500,000+
Sri Lanka 35,322 35,322 21,411 n/a 516,150
India 12,405 18,045 n/a 5,640 647,599
Thailand 5,395 8,212 8,457 2,817 7,000
Somalia 78 289 n/a n/a 5,000
Myanmar (Burma) 61 400–600 45 200 3,200
Maldives 82 108 n/a 26 15,000+
Malaysia 68 75 299 6 5,000+
Tanzania 10 13 n/a n/a n/a
Seychelles 3 3 57 n/a 200[70]
Bangladesh 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
South Africa 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Yemen 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Kenya 1 1 2 n/a n/a
Madagascar n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,000+
Total ~184,167 ~230,273 ~125,000 ~45,752 ~1.69 million

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The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean were devastated by the tsunami, and by the initial quake and several aftershocks that occurred during the following days. The Great Nicobar and Car Nicobar islands were the worst hit among all the islands due to their proximity to the epicentre of the quake and because of the relatively flat terrain.

One-fifth of the population in Nicobar Islands was reported dead, missing or wounded. Chowra Island lost two-thirds of its population of 1,500. Communication was cut off when many islands submerged. The Trinket Island was bifurcated.

Fishing communities were destroyed and very little is known about the effects of the tsunami on the indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The official death toll in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was 1,310, with about 5,600 missing from the islands. But the unofficial death toll, including those missing and presumed dead, was estimated to be around 7,000.

Map showing Tsunami Affected Area in India.
Map showing Tsunami Affected Areas in India.

The tsunami hit the southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. It inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast. Around 8,000 deaths were reported from Tamilnadu, and around 200 deaths from Kerala. The district of Nagapattinam was the worst hit in Tamil Nadu, with nearly 5,500 deaths.

The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)
The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)

Surprisingly, Bangladesh, which lies at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, had only two confirmed deaths, despite being a low-lying country and located relatively near the epicenter. Also, distance alone does not guarantee a safety since Somalia located in the Horn of Africa on the eastern coast was hit harder than Bangladesh even though it is much farther away.

Coasts, with a landmass between them and the location of origin of a tsunami, are usually deemed safe, but tsunami waves can sometimes steer around such landmasses. Being a relatively small island, the western coast of Sri Lanka suffered substantial damages from the impact of the tsunami; likewise, the Indian state of Kerala too was hit by the tsunami, despite being on the western coast of India.

The government of India announced a financial package of about US$200 million to Andaman and Nicobar islands after the tsunami, but the unbearable living conditions due to rise in sea level, constant aftershocks and fear of another similar tsunami, propelled thousands of settlers on the islands to relocate to the Indian mainland.

According to the World Bank, reconstruction was expected to cost more than US$1.2 billion in India alone.

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 Previous ~ India and Day 26 – Part 2: Turmoil in Gujarat

Next → India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 1

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Inmarsat’s Satellite Data


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By T. V. Antony Raj

Wild ride of MH370 (Source: heraldsun.com.au)
Wild ride of MH370 (Source: heraldsun.com.au)

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The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is now on in a section of the southern Indian Ocean known as the “Roaring Forties” where strong westerly winds generally blow between latitude 40° and 50°. The strong west-to-east air currents are induced by the combination of the Earth’s rotation and air being displaced from the Equator towards the South Pole, with just a few landmasses to act as windbreaks. The area is characterized by cold fronts that sweep east every four to five days, causing  13 to 30 feet (4 to 9 meters) pounding waves that churn the icy sea.

International Mobile Satellite Organization (Inmarsat) is a British satellite telecommunications company, offering global, mobile services. Inmarsat started playing an import role immediately after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared.

One of Inmarsat’s satellites continued to pick up a series of automated hourly ‘pings’ from the missing aircraft which would normally be used to synchronize timing information even after the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), which would usually transmit the plane’s position, was switched off, suggesting the plane flew to the Indian Ocean.

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How Inmarsat tracked down Flight MH370 (Source: telegraph.co.uk)
How Inmarsat tracked down Flight MH370 (Source: telegraph.co.uk)

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By analyzing these pings, Inmarsat established that the aircraft continued to fly for at least five hours after the aircraft left Malaysian airspace and that it had flown along one of two ‘corridors’ – one arcing north and the other south. The plane was reportedly flying at a cruising height above 30,000 feet. See my article “Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – If Hijacked, Where Did It Go?

Using complex mathematical processes, Inmarsat’s engineers analyzed the tiny shifts in the frequency of the pings from the missing aircraft and came up with a detailed Doppler effect model for the northern and southern paths and inferred the aircraft’s likely final location though their method had never been used before to investigate an air disaster.

Chris McLaughlin, senior vice-president of external affairs at Inmarsat said:

“We looked at the Doppler effect, which is the change in frequency due to the movement of a satellite in its orbit. What that then gave us was a predicted path for the northerly route and a predicted path the southerly route…

That’s never been done before; our engineers came up with it as a unique contribution… By yesterday they were able to definitively say that the plane had undoubtedly taken the southern route…

We worked out where the last ping was, and we knew that the plane must have run out of fuel before the next automated ping, but we didn’t know what speed the aircraft was flying at – we assumed about 450 knots. We can’t know when the fuel actually ran out, we can’t know whether the plane plunged or glided, and we can’t know whether the plane at the end of the time in the air was flying more slowly because it was on fumes.”

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Pings to Inmarsat (video grab from Wall Street Journal)
Pings to Inmarsat (video grab from Wall Street Journal)

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According to the Wall Street Journal, Inmarsat relayed their findings to the Malaysian officials and the British security and air-safety officials on March 12, 2014. But the Malaysian government concerned about corroborating the data and dealing with internal disagreements about how much information to release did not publicly acknowledge Inmarsat’s information until four days later. On Saturday, March 15, 2014, during a news conference, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak accepted for the first time that deliberate actions were involved in the disappearance of the aircraft. He said:

“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

 He added that the search effort was redirected from that day to focus on the areas the Inmarsat information described:

“From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar showed that an aircraft which was believed – but not confirmed – to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over Peninsular Malaysia before turning north-west. Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

Today, based on raw satellite data that was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370. After much forensic work and deliberation, the F.A.A., N.T.S.B., A.A.I.B. and the Malaysian authorities, working separately on the same data, concur.

According to the new data, the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time on Saturday 8th March. The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact. This will help us to refine the search.

Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite.

However, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. The investigation team is working to further refine the information.

In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board. Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.

This new satellite information has a significant impact on the nature and scope of the search operation. We are ending our operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of our assets. We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data.

As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts. I have also instructed the Foreign Ministry to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane. This morning, Malaysia Airlines has been informing the families of the passengers and crew of these new developments.”

On March 18, 2014, Australia and the US National Transportation Safety Board narrowed down the search area to just three per cent of the southern corridor by taking into consideration Inmarsat’s inference from the satellite pings, along with assumptions about the plane’s speed.

On Monday, March 24, 2014, Prime Minister Najib Razak said that according to Inmarsat the aircraft flew along the southern corridor and ended its journey in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean. He said:

“Based on new analysis… MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth… It is therefore, with deep sadness and regret, that I must inform you that according to this new data that flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

On the same day, Australian and Chinese search planes separately spotted a few objects in the southern Indian Ocean and alleged they were possible debris from the missing aircraft and reported the coordinates to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is coordinating the multinational search, and also to the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon, which is en route to the area. Half a dozen other Chinese ships along with 20 fishing vessels have been ordered to move toward the search zone.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the crew of an Australian P3 Orion plane had located and two objects in the search zone, but it was unclear if they were part of an aircraft. He said the first object was grey or green and circular, the second orange and rectangular. The crew was able to photograph the objects.

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Search suspended ... this satellite image shows severe tropical cyclone Gillian off the Western Australian coast. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology
Search suspended this satellite image shows severe tropical cyclone Gillian off the Western Australian coast. Credit: Bureau of Meteorology

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An Australian Navy supply ship, the HMAS Success, was on the scene on Monday trying to locate and retrieve the objects. However, according to AMSA, due to rough seas, the vessel left the search area early Tuesday morning since conducting the search in such conditions would be hazardous and pose a risk to crews.AMSA said the vessel is now in transit south of the search area until the sea calms down and if weather conditions permit the search would be resumed tomorrow, otherwise, if weather conditions continue to deteriorate it could be several days before the search is resumed.

Meanwhile, the United States prepared to move into the region a special device that can locate black boxes.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Hypothetical Theories


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

From the day the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared many theories such as hijacking, disintegration in midair, missile attack, and so on, are being elucidated by pundits and amateurs for the possible disappearance of the flight that took off on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 00:41 MST from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 239 people, including 12 crew members.

Since the international search for the missing aircraft has not yielded any result and the hope of finding it is waning as the days dawn on, implausible and whimsical theories are now circulating in regular and online social media.

A meteor strike?

Some have suggested that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could have been struck by a powerful meteor that shattered it to smithereens, and the bits might have fallen into the sea.

Interception by aliens?

On the ForbiddenKnowledgeTV.com, a conspiracy theory site, Alexandra Bruce has interpreted the unusual data on Flightradar24.com on the date of the disappearance.  He suggests that a UFO might have intercepted the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The radar playback from Flightradar24.com website
The radar playback from Flightradar24.com website. Click image to view video.

Seeing the radar playback of the moments leading up to the plane’s disappearance, one may forgive Malaysia Airlines for not being more forward, in this case – because the radar playback is not only baffling, it shows two distinct anomalies, as pointed out by Intrepid citizen-reporter and YouTube popstar, DAHBOO7.

The radar playback depicts dozens of planes in flight over the region at the time. The first peculiarity is seen in the lower left of the screen. A round object appears in the vicinity of Flight 370 (and amid several others), which the radar does not automatically “read” as airplane. Suddenly, this round object take the form of a “plane” on the radar screen and accelerates at a rate of speed that must be at least five times the speed of the surrounding planes, heading eastward, over the South China Sea – and just as suddenly the object stops and appears to hover in place.

During this same time, there is some evidence that shortly after crossing the Malaysian Peninsula, Flight 370 was in trouble. The radar playback shows that the plane took three sharp turns: right, left, right at an altitude of 35,000 feet and at a speed of 473 knots – just before the radar readings instantly go from 35,000 feet to 0, with the plane still traveling at that speed for a few moments more, at 0 feet altitude before it vanishes from the screen. As of this writing, this plane remains missing, even though the sea is relatively shallow in the area where the lane went missing.

As for the other object described here, it disappears as well. There have been no reports about this object – or plane, or what have you; whether it was a commercial airliner, like the many others in flight during the final moments preceding the disappearance of Flight 370 – but the object in question certainly didn’t behave like a commercial airliner.

Regardless of whether or not this mystery object had anything to do with the demise of of Flight 370 – what IS evident is that the radar readings shown in this clip captured signals from what for now, can only be termed a UFO.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Did the Aircraft Fly Towards Palau Langkawi


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370  (Source: CNN)
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (Source: CNN)

From the day the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared many theories such as hijacking, disintegration in midair, missile attack, and so on, are being elucidated by pundits and amateurs for the possible disappearance of the flight that took off on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 00:41 MST from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 239 people, including 12 crew members.

The location of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40 MST (March 7, 18:40 UTC) was at 6°55′15″N 103°34′43″E. After that the aircraft ceased all communications. The aircraft’s transponder in the cockpit was switched off just before the plane passed from Malaysian to the Ho Chi Minh Area air traffic control space – the optimum moment, when the aircraft was not controlled by air traffic controllers in Malaysia or Vietnam. Later, authorities in Thailand and China informed their Malaysian counterparts that the aircraft had not entered their airspace.

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters:

“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

The Prime Minister further said:

 “Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.”

Chris Goodfellow
Chris Goodfellow

Chris Goodfellow, a Canadian with 20 years experience as a Class-1 instrumented-rated pilot for multi-engine does not speculate on terrorism, hijack, meteors, etc. He tries to look for a more simple explanation of this incident through his post “MH370  A different point of view. Pulau Langkawi 13,000 runway” on Google+.

When he heard reports that Malaysian military radar tracked the aircraft on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the straits of Malacca, he instantly brought up Google Earth and searched for airports in proximity to the track towards southwest.

Goodfellow suggests that the chief pilot was confronted by some major event on-board that made him turn back right away to the closest safe airport. It was probably a serious event and the crew in the cockpit must have been occupied trying to fight the fire and controlling the aircraft. For Goodfellw, the loss of transponders and communication makes perfect sense in the case of a fire and electrical short-circuit caused by the fire because the first reaction is to pull all the main busses and restore circuits, one by one, until the bad one is isolated and the aircraft would have gone silent. Aviate, Navigate and lastly communicate would be the modus operandi of a seasoned pilot.

Flight of MH370 to Langkawi

Chris Goodfellow says:

The left turn is the key here. This was a very experienced senior Captain with 18,000 hours. Maybe some of the younger pilots interviewed on CNN didn’t pick up on this left turn. We old pilots were always drilled to always know the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us and airports ahead of us. Always in our head. Always. Because if something happens you don’t want to be thinking what are you going to do – you already know what you are going to do. Instinctively when I saw that left turn with a direct heading I knew he was heading for an airport. Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi a 13,000 foot strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000 foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance.

What I think happened is that they were overcome by smoke and the plane just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. I said four days ago you will find it along that route – looking elsewhere was pointless.

This pilot, as I say, was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. No doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route. A hijack would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It would probably have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided on where they were taking it.

Surprisingly none of the reporters , officials, other pilots interviewed have looked at this from the pilot’s viewpoint. If something went wrong where would he go? Thanks to Google earth I spotted Langkawi in about 30 seconds, zoomed in and saw how long the runway was and I just instinctively knew this pilot knew this airport. He had probably flown there many times. I guess we will eventually find out when you help me spread this theory on the net and some reporters finally take a look on Google earth and put 2 and 2 together.

The Langkawi International Airport (Source: philly.com)
The Langkawi International Airport (Source: philly.com)

The Langkawi International Airport is one of seven international airports in Malaysia and connects the island to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Penang and Subang.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – If Hijacked, Where Did It Go?


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.Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters:

“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

This statement implies the Aircraft has been hijacked. It has raised questions about the person or people with deep experience at the controls in the cockpit of the aircraft when it disappeared.

Now, the investigators have started scrutinizing the background of the crew and passengers on board the aircraft more fervently. They are trying to find whether anyone on board other than Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah (53) and First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid (27) had training in aircraft navigation and deliberately or under coercion diverted the plane from its scheduled route after communication was lost.

Security on cockpit doors has been reinforced on all passenger aircraft after the terrorist attacks of September 11 in New York. Hence, forced entry into the cockpit would not be possible and the pilots would have had enough time to send a warning signal to the ground air traffic controllers.

The aircraft’s transponder in the cockpit was switched off just before the plane passed from Malaysian to the Ho Chi Minh Area air traffic control space – the optimum moment, when the aircraft was not controlled by air traffic controllers in Malaysia or Vietnam. Later, authorities in Thailand and China informed their Malaysian counterparts that the aircraft had not entered their airspace.

Controls in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-200ER (Source: flyawaysimulation.com)
Controls in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-200ER (Source: flyawaysimulation.com)

The Boeing 777-200ER is a large aircraft and relatively new. So, someone who has flown smaller passenger planes, or even smaller Boeings, could not have shut down the aircraft’s communications. The timing of turning off the transponder could be done only by someone who knew this aircraft well, knew the route, and knew how to avoid air traffic control without attracting attention. This certainly points to the involvement of the pilot, the first mate or one or more crew members, willing or unwilling.

On Thursday, March 13, 2014, a US official said during his brief on the search that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 sent signals to a satellite orbiting 22,250 miles over the middle of the Indian Ocean for four hours after the aircraft went missing. This indicates the missing aircraft was still flying for hundreds of miles or more after it was last contacted by ground controllers.

This map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmission to a satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, more than seven hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur's airport, and when the plane would most likely have been running low on fuel. Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Satellite contact map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmissions. (Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia)

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Satellite contact map by SERGIO PEÇANHA, ARCHIE TSE and TIM WALLACE (Source: Malaysian government)
Satellite contact map by SERGIO PEÇANHA, ARCHIE TSE and TIM WALLACE (Source: Malaysian government)

The above two maps released by officials of the Malaysian government and posted in The New York Times show the signals from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 came from somewhere along one of the two arcs shows in red. The northern arc runs from the southern border of Kazakhstan in central Asia to northern Thailand and the southern arc runs from a location near Jakarta to the Indian Ocean, roughly 1,000 miles off the west coast of Australia.

The land area the northern arc passes through encompasses portentous arenas of insurgency and highly militarized zones from Kazakhstan in central Asia to northern Thailand. The beginning of the arc lies close to northern Iran. It then passes through Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, northern India, the Himalayas and Myanmar.

If  Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370  had flown on that arc, it would have to pass through air defense networks in India and Pakistan, whose mutual long border is heavily militarized, as well as Afghanistan, where the United States and other NATO countries have operational air bases for more than a decade.

If hijacked, where did the airplane go? Did it land on firm terrain or crash into the deep Indian Ocean?

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Was the Aircraft Hijacked?


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.Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

Theories such as hijacking, disintegration in midair, missile attack, and so on, are being expounded by pundits and amateurs for the plausible disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that took off on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 00:41 MST from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 239 people, including 12 crew members, on a scheduled six-hour flight to Beijing. About two hours later, the aircraft was last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40 MST. After that the aircraft ceased all communications, and the transponder signal was lost.

Was the Aircraft Hijacked?

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters:

“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

The Prime Minister further said:

 “Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.”

I have reproduced below the full text of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s statement on the investigation into the missing Malaysia Airlines plane,  as provided by the Prime Minister’s office. I have used the two diagrams  from the very informative article published in the The New York Times titled “Search for Malaysian Jet Becomes Criminal Inquiry” authored by Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley.

Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. (Source: .abc.net.au)
Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. (Source: .abc.net.au)

Seven days ago Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared. We realize this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board. No words can describe the pain they must be going through. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them.

I have been appraised of the ongoing search operation round the clock. At the beginning of the operation, I ordered the search area to be broadened; I instructed the Malaysian authorities to share all relevant information freely and transparently with the wider investigation team; and I requested that our friends and allies join the operation. As of today, 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are involved in the search. I wish to thank all the governments for their help at such a crucial time.

Since day one, the Malaysian authorities have worked hand-in-hand with our international partners – including neighboring countries, the aviation authorities and a multinational search force – many of whom have been here on the ground since Sunday.

We have shared information in real time with authorities who have the necessary experience to interpret the data. We have been working nonstop to assist the investigation. And we have put our national security second to the search for the missing plane.

It is widely understood that this has been a situation without precedent.

We have conducted search operations over land, in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean. At every stage, we acted on the basis of verified information, and we followed every credible lead. Sometimes these leads have led nowhere.

There has been intense speculation. We understand the desperate need for information on behalf of the families and those watching around the world. But we have a responsibility to the investigation and the families to only release information that has been corroborated. And our primary motivation has always been to find the plane.

In the first phase of the search operation, we searched near MH370’s last known position, in the South China Sea. At the same time, it was brought to our attention by the Royal Malaysian Air Force that, based on their primary radar, an aircraft – the identity of which could not be confirmed – made a turn back. The primary radar data showed the aircraft proceeding on a flight path which took it to an area north of the Straits of Malacca.

Given this credible data, which was subsequently corroborated with the relevant international authorities, we expanded the area of search to include the Straits of Malacca and, later, to the Andaman Sea.

Early this morning I was briefed by the investigation team – which includes the F.A.A., N.T.S.B., the A.A.I.B., the Malaysian authorities and the acting minister of transport – on new information that sheds further light on what happened to MH370.

Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.

The diagram published by New York Times citing Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (search areas); flightradar24.com (dotted flight path); Malaysia Airlines as sources.
The diagram published by New York Times citing Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (search areas); flightradar24.com (dotted flight path); Malaysia Airlines as sources.

From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar showed that an aircraft which was believed – but not confirmed – to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over Peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest. Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

Today, based on raw satellite data that was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370. After much forensic work and deliberation, the F.A.A., N.T.S.B., A.A.I.B. and the Malaysian authorities, working separately on the same data, concur.

According to the new data, the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time on Saturday 8th March. The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact. This will help us to refine the search.

Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite.

This map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmission to a satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, more than seven hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur's airport, and when the plane would most likely have been running low on fuel. Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
This map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmission to a satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, more than seven hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur’s airport, and when the plane would most likely have been running low on fuel. Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

However, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. The investigation team is working to further refine the information.

In view of this latest development the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board. Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.

This new satellite information has a significant impact on the nature and scope of the search operation. We are ending our operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of our assets. We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data.

As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts. I have also instructed the Foreign Ministry to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane. This morning, Malaysia Airlines has been informing the families of the passengers and crew of these new developments.

Clearly, the search for MH370 has entered a new phase. Over the last seven days, we have followed every lead and looked into every possibility. For the families and friends of those involved, we hope this new information brings us one step closer to finding the plane.

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PMANE’s Open Letter to Jayalalitha – ‘Lets walk the talk ‘


Most of the people here in our area have been praying to Our Lady of Lourdes at Idinthakarai and to the Sage Vishwamitra in one of his rarest temples in India near Koodankulam with the solemn hope that these divine forces would save them from nuclear threats to their land and the sea. They believe that from Gorbachev and Rajiv Gandhi who initiated the KKNPP to the Russian engineers and scientists who designed the Koodankulam reactors have met with misfortunes. It is only natural for people to turn to supernatural forces when their political energies are dissipated and actions discouraged by the vested interests.

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kracktivist

August 20, 2012
 
The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Phone: 98656 83735
 
The Honorable Chief Minister
Government of Tamil Nadu
Fort St. George
Chennai 600 009
Fax: 044-24992255, 25671441, 28133510
 
Honorable Madam:
 
Greetings! As we have completed a whole year struggling against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), we would like to initiate a fresh round of dialogue with you.
 
As you know, the Government of India and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) have not shared any basic information with us about the KKNPP. Even after the Central Information Commission (CIC) has instructed them, they have not shared the Site Evaluation Report (SER) and the Safety Analysis Report (SAR) with us. They have not heard our opinions or allayed our fears and concerns about the lack of fresh water resources, the changes in the design…

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Maldives Cabinet Makes a Splash by Holding an Underwater Meeting!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Note: What you are about to see and read happened in October 2009. Though the news is old I was impressed by the event and want to share it with you.

“If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world” —  President Mohamed Nasheed (fourth president of the Maldives from November 11, 2008 to February 7, 2012)

Amazing beach – Maldives

The islands of the Maldives archipelago stand an average of 2.1 metres (7 feet) above sea level.

In March 2009, scientists at a meeting in Copenhagen predicted that glaciers and ice sheets melting as a result of global warming could boost the level of the world’s oceans by as much as a metre by 2100; and at the rate of rising sea levels, the whole archipelago could end up under the water by the end of the century.

The government of the Maldives held a cabinet meeting underwater on October 17, 2009 to draw attention to to the threat global warming poses to the low-lying nation in the Indian Ocean.

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 1 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

President Mohammed Nasheed and members of his cabinet wore scuba gear as they arrived for the meeting in a lagoon off the island of Girifushi.

They sat at a table anchored to the sand on the floor of the Indian Ocean and signed a document calling on all countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

They spent half an hour on the sea bed, communicating with white boards and hand signals.

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 2 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 3 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

Officials from around the world will meet in the Danish capital in Copenhagen in December 2009 under UN auspices to hammer out a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, aiming to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.

“We’re now actually trying to send our message, let the world know what is happening, and what will happen to the Maldives if climate change is not checked,” President Nasheed said, speaking six metres below the surface..

“If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world. We want other countries to come to an understanding [at the World Climate Congress] in Copenhagen. We do not want to see Copenhagen fail,” he added.

Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting 4 Maldives cabinet holds underwater meeting!

Officials from around the world will meet in the Danish capital in Copenhagen in December 2009 under UN auspices to hammer out a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, aiming to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that are blamed for global warming. The president said the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen cannot be allowed to fail.

At a later press conference while still in the water, President Nasheed was asked what would happen if the summit fails. “We are going to die,” he replied.

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THE KOODANKULAM EXPOSÉ-AND THE RIGHT TO KNOW


Reproduced from 

Sunday 10 June 2012

THE KOODANKULAM EXPOSÉ-AND THE RIGHT TO KNOW

Aerial view of Tamil Nadu, India from Space ta...
Aerial view of Tamil Nadu, India from Space taken by NASA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s front-page lead story tells us everything we need to know about the premium value of Right to Information in any democracy. Indian advocacy groups making use of new Right to Information laws have unearthed an evaluation report which exposes startling information that has implications not just for South India and Sri Lanka, but almost the entirety of the Indian Ocean — particularly the Bay of Bengal.

For those who have not read the story, the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu is poised to deposit dangerous quantities of nuclear wastes in the Indian Ocean, which is a potential calamity facing our people, and possibly a calamity facing the people of India as well.

The story speaks for itself — and what action the Government of Sri Lanka will take in this regard remains to be seen. This is in short order, a disaster waiting to happen. Indian environmental scientists themselves are saying so, as could be gathered from our front-page story and the other feature story in perspective on page 5. (sic)

How all these dangers were exposed is another issue in its entirety. No Indian could have got close to ferreting out the truth on the calamitous dangers of the nuclear plants in Tamil Nadu had they not had the benefit of Right to Information laws.

So, the Koodankulam example is one in which it could be said without hyperbole that Right to Information legislation possibly meant the difference between life and death. No doubt the Indian authorities would heavily contest the assertions of the environmental lobbyists, but it clearly is a tall order to contradict the Site Evaluation Report (SER) which states unequivocally that a good part of the Indian Ocean is bound to become a dumping site for nuclear wastes once the T’ Nadu plants are commissioned.

How the entire issue would play out in India, and with reference to Indo-Sri Lankan relations would be interesting, and would be moot, but the success of the Indian lobbyists in making use of Right to Information legislation leaves us Sri Lankans envying our Indian neighbours, trying as we have been to get similar legislation passed in our parliament.

The government stymied the UNP’s efforts to ram through such laws, but this was at that time on condition that the government would come up with its own draft. It was argued as many observers of events at that time would recall that the UNP Bill was in fact redundant as the government had plans for a Right to Information Bill, and was close to making the whole thing a fait accompli.

But no Bill on the Right to Information has materialized, and despite the fact that noises are being made about Private Members’ motions etc., that might gift the people this vital legislation at last — everybody including lobbyists, journalists and private citizens have waited in vain.

There could be larger calamities than the Koodankulam plants that are waiting to happen, particularly at a time when concerns of ‘development’ seem to take precedence over all rational considerations.

Please also read about the flouting of environmental legislation to install an entire village in the Nilagala/Gal Oya forests, elsewhere in this newspaper. How many more such depredations are being kept under a lid, simply because we do not have the right to know?


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