For nearly two weeks now, the fate of 239 passengers on the Malaysian Airline flight 307 travelling from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Beijing (China) has remained a painful conjecture.
What is certain is that the plane departed Kuala Lumpur about midnight and travelled to the edge of Malaysian air space about 1.30am, said good bye to the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) in Malaysia. Just when they were being expected to receive welcome from the Vietnamese Air Traffic Controllers, the plane went silent, transponders switched off or cut off or malfunctioned and the plane disappeared into ‘thin air’ or ‘deep sea’. In short, the plane just vanished!
What happened? Thirteen days after, what we have are all conjectures, theories and guesses. After four days of bewilderment by Malaysian Airlines and the Malaysian government, the anxious families of the passengers and the watching world were told that the plane had turned back full circle, flew past the Malaysian territory for another 1 hour,10 minutes, arriving the strait of Marlocca at about 2.40pm, before it finally disappeared.
The initial over 35 ships and 40 planes contributed by the International community to the Search and Rescue efforts have been scrambling from one area to the other as conflicting directions are given. At the last account over 26 countries were involved in the search, and the number of planes and ships involved difficult to determine accurately.
Few days later, after the ‘intelligence’ from the Malaysian military on the turn back theory, we heard that Chinese Satellite had identified three large debris floating off the coast of Vietnam. Speculations returned that maybe the plane came down at the point where it first went out of sight and out of sound, near Vietnam. Then people began to wonder what
happened to the primary satellite picture that showed that the plane made a u-turn back to Malaysia flying for 1hour, 10 minutes? It looks like it was all guess work. Soon after, a Wall Street Journal article indicated that signals recorded from the engine of the Boeing 777 airplane suggest that it flew for additional 4 hours after it lost contact with the ATCs. The only problem with this article and ‘revelation’ was that it did not say in which direction? Did it continue through Vietnamese territory into China or did it fly back as previously shown on the Malaysian military satellite?
My question is: Have Science and Technology failed us this time? Can Science and Technology fail in this digital age? But so it looks. First, two Iranians boarded the flight with stolen passports and I am thoroughly puzzled. If they could forge pictures or clone pictures or do facial surgery or make up, how did they get through with the finger prints? Can that be cloned or forged as well? Science told us no two finger prints are the same. It is difficult to comprehend how these ‘mystery’ men beat the Malaysian Immigration security and how they evaded the Interpol as well with all the technology and artificial intelligence. The presence of these two mystery men in the flight has heightened speculations of possible hijack attempt or terrorist activity.
Late last week, the Malaysian government issued a statement debunking all the previous conjectures. They could not confirm that the plane turned back. The floating objects sited by the Chinese in the South China Sea turned out to be a mirage and the report by the Wall Street Journal has been described as false. So we came back to square one, where we had been since Saturday 8th of March 2014. Flight 307 with 239 passengers just vanished and nobody seems to know where the plane is or what has happened to the crew and passengers.
Since then, the world has been running round in circles. With the entry of American intelligence, the search has been extended to the Indian Ocean and virtually all countries in the region and beyond have joined in what appears to be the biggest search effort in modern history, now covering an area of 7.62 million square kilometres. What an apparent chase of the wind!
It is difficult to believe that all this is happening in the second decade of the 21st Century. So much has been made of Satellite Technology with even poor countries like Nigeria investing in acquiring satellites. So how come, none of the global satellites especially those of China, Japan and Russia and now USA have been able to locate the plane with any scientific certainty. What has happened to our Total Radar Coverage? I am told that every ICAO certified nation is expected to have total radar coverage. Does that apply to Malaysia, Vietnam and China?
And then, we are told that the modern airlines, the triple seven inclusive, have been installed with sophisticated communication and avionics equipment that are not only designed to make flying much safer but to assist rapid search and rescue mission. But all these seem to have failed or indeed have failed thus far. Even if we finally discovered the location of the plane, which certainly can no longer be in the skies but somewhere on the ground or below the ground, of what use are all those gadgets and sophisticated technology? If this has happened in
Africa, we would have been told it is because of our poor and obsolete technology. But alas! Or could they have raptured? A friend of mine said no, that the said time for rapture had not come and that even it would, it will not start from Malaysia or with the Chinese. I warned him that the Lord said no one knew the date and time, and that it could start from anywhere. But
he countered that it was improbable that all the passengers and crew would all be raptured at once, because the scripture said that only the righteous would be raptured, and that he was sure, there were at least two unrighteous men in the flight – those two who used stolen passports. I stopped the discussion along those lines in order not to trivialise an important spiritual reality. But what happened to flight MH 307 and its occupants? Are we at the limits of human technological capabilities?
I am impressed with our scientific and technological innovations and breakthroughs. I am a scientist myself, but it is clear that Science and Technology has its limits; it can fail as it has done in this case. Why would this happen every so often leaving us thoroughly frustrated, some sad and many angry. The point is that Technology is the creation of man and despite all the sophistication and sophistry, man is still severely limited. Therefore, we must always be wary when we put all of our trust in man and his creations and devices.
I travel frequently by air. But each time I board an aircraft, I say my prayers. First, I ask God to grant the pilot, co-pilot and crew divine wisdom to do the right thing at the appropriate time so that the flight will take off safely. Then I ask God to grant strength to the engines and to every part of the plane so that there will be no failure. Thereafter, I request God to grant us good weather, that He should take away every rain, cloud, breeze, storm, lightening and thunderstorm that would constitute any hindrance or danger to our smooth flight. Finally, I ask Him to direct His Angels to bear us up in their arms so that we do not dash our feet against any stone. After that I will relax to enjoy the flight.
Immediately the plane takes off, I say a short thank you prayer to God. Every time the pilot or the cabin crew makes an announcement reporting the progress of the flight or warning of any bumps ahead, I say a short prayer. When the flight is about to land, I say another prayer asking for God’s grace to make the plane land safely, and that it would not overshoot the runway. When the plane finally lands, I give a thank you Jesus praise and ask for safe disembankment.
Often, I find that people around me join in some prayer as well. But I find also that most of the people in the plane just go on chattering with apparently no care, perhaps trusting on the technological sophistication of the aircraft or the experience of the pilots. However, the moment there is a sudden bump, you will almost hear a unanimous Chorus of ‘Jesus’. Which suggests to me that they realise that there is ONE who is able to save. But why they would not deliberately seek His intervention except when danger threatens baffles me.
We must remain unceasing in our prayers for a miracle to happen. Though from human understanding and logic there seems to be little hope. But as a community of humans we must not give up hope until the matter is resolved one way or the other. At the same time, we must also pray for the distressed families of the crew and passengers who currently do not seem to be getting a fair deal from the Malaysian Airlines. For now, only God can make the difference, man and his inventions and technology have failed as they often do. A pity!