Dutch cyclist Maarten de Jonge cheats death twice after changing flights from both Malaysia Airlines MH17 and MH370

The 29-year-old had been booked to fly on the jet which was shot down over Ukraine this week

A Dutch cyclist has revealed how he twice cheated death after changing his plans to fly on both the Malaysia Airlines passenger jets involved in international aviation disasters over the past four months.

Maarten de Jonge, 29, has to travel around the world to compete for Malaysia’s Terengganu cycling team – and in doing so has now had two extraordinary near misses.

Speaking to the Dutch public broadcaster RTV Oost, De Jonge said he had been due to travel on flight MH17, the Boeing 777 that was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday killing all of the almost 300 passengers on board.

The cyclist said that he only decided to swap flights at the last minute, after discovering that travelling via Frankfurt today would prove cheaper.

Tweeting a link on Thursday to a Dutch article about the MH17 disaster, De Jonge said: “Had I departed today, then…”

During his interview with the local broadcaster, the cyclist revealed something even more remarkable – that he had also been planning to travel on flight MH370, the Malaysia jet which vanished on 8 March and which remains missing somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

De Jonge had been due to compete in a race in Taiwan, Marca reported, and decided to take a different flight an hour earlier that did not include a stopover in Beijing.

He told RTV Oost that having changed his flight plans at the last minute he actually spoke to a number of passengers who were waiting to board MH370 – and who have not been seen since.

“I could have taken that one just as easily,” De Jonge said in an interview with RTV Oost. “It's inconceivable. I am very sorry for the passengers and their families, yet I am very pleased I'm unharmed.”

Since hinting at his close calls on Twitter, the cyclist said he had been “overwhelmed” by the international response to his story.

In a statement on his website, De Jonge said he would not be giving any further interviews out of respect for those who have died in the two tragedies.

“What has happened is terrible, so many victims, that's a horrible thing,” he said. “I have my story and I would like to leave it at that... my story is ultimately nothing compared to the misery so many people have suffered.”

De Jonge said that while his parents had expressed concern that he still plans to fly Malaysia Airlines when he leaves the Netherlands today, he isn’t letting what has happened put him off flying.

“You should try not to worry too much because then you won't get anywhere,” he told RTV Oost. “I have been lucky twice, this will be the third time as well.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview