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Oil rig worker fired after claiming to have seen burning MH370 plane crash

Employers' phones were inundated after email making claim was leaked, leaving company to fire New Zealander Mike McKay
  • @_andrew_griffin

A New Zealander who claimed to have seen the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 crash into the sea has said that he has been fired from working on the oil rig from which he spotted the burning plane.

Mike McKay emailed his employers alerting them to the fact that he had seen what he believed to be the burning plane and was unsure if authorities had read his messages. When that email was leaked, shortly after, the company was inundated with calls.

“This became intolerable for them and I was removed from the rig and not invited back,” he told the Sunday Star-Times. “Contracts meant little in the oilfield. The oil patch is a rough, unforgiving game.”

The company opted to release him five days ahead of schedule, but paid him until the end of his work period.

In the email, sent shortly after the plane was found missing on March 8, McKay provided his precise location, the compass bearing of the plane and details of the weather on the day of the crash. He also provided his passport number and his full name, allowing the media to easily find the details of his employer.


“I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down,” he said in the leaked email. “The timing is right. I tried to contact the Malaysian and Vietnam officials several days ago. But I do not know if the message has been received.

“While I observed the burning (plane) it appeared to be in ONE piece.”

Read more: 13 theories of what happened to MH370

Officials had spoken to McKay and were set to investigate the sighting but the search moved to the Andaman Sea soon after the interview, McKay said.

The first book on the lost plane, written by Anglo-American journalist and author Nigel Cawthorne, claims that the plane was set down in a military training exercise and then covered up. Cawthorne uses McKay’s claim to support his theory that the plane was shot down shortly after it stopped communicating with air traffic controllers.

A British woman who was sailing near Indonesia when the plane crashed said last week that she saw the plane burning and billowing smoke before it crashed in a different location. Katherine Tee described seeing “an elongated plane glowing bright orange, with a trail of black smoke behind it."

A spokesperson for M-I Swaco said: "The circumstances of Mr McKay’s departure have nothing to do with  the MH370 story or the resulting publicity."