Even if it were intended as an April Fool's Day post, it's not funny. A post on a little-known website called Conservative Read claimed that it had obtained a selfie of former Beijing expat and missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 passenger Philip Wood, and that electronic data embedded in the blank photo showed that the picture was taken on the island of Diego Garcia, an American military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
"It’s real, this is NOT a hoax. The coordinates in the picture indicate that the photo was taken within 3 miles of what Google officially gives for Diego Garcia," the site exhorts, using bold and all caps for emphasis.
The Finding Philip Wood information page quickly poured water on the so-called report. "Unfortunately there are also postings and repostings of a horrid hoax regarding cell and text messages and "selfies" from Philip. Please don't fall prey to these postings. They are counterproductive and insensitive," the page's administrators posted.
Malaysia Airlines MH370 dropped from radar on March 8 during a schedule flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 passengers and crew aboard. No verified communication or objects from the plane have been received or found since then. Along with 154 Chinese passengers, a number of members of Beijing's international community remain missing, including Wood. Wood was one of three Americans on board, an IBM executive in the process of moving from China to Malaysia, with his partner, Sarah Bajc, a former contributor to the Beijinger sister publication beijingkids, who has since completed the move to Kuala Lumpur, according to her Facebook page.
The incident and its lack of any resolution so far has resulted in protests at the Embassy of Malaysia in Beijing by families of the missing. Those protests were triggered in part by an announcement by Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak that "flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," based only on radar data but without any physical evidence. The search continued this week. A British submarine arrived off the west coast of Australia Wednesday, as authorities hope to pick up locating pings from the plane's cockpit data and flight data recorders, which, if in the water, will stop emitting sound after 30 days, a deadline approaching early next week.
You can read all of the Beijinger's coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 here.
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