MH370: From speculation to fiction

ONE THEORY: Flight MH370 posits that there was a cover-up.
ONE THEORY: Flight MH370 posits that there was a cover-up.

Seventy-one days after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared, the story of the doomed plane is hitting the silver screen and bookshelves. But is it too soon?

The director spruiking one big-screen take on the passenger plane says his film won't dishonour the memory of its passengers.

Director Rupesh Paul has released a 90-second trailer for the project, which he is currently pitching at the Cannes Film Festival, Variety reported.

The Vanishing Act trailer features thriller-style music, terrified passengers and a love triangle between flight attendants.

But Paul said his partly fictional movie would respect MH370's real-life passengers and crew.

"I will make sure no passengers will be hurt because of this," he told Variety.

The Indian director said the "biggest challenge" was the prospect of the plane being discovered, disproving his script's theory on its disappearance.

If the nail-biting trailer helps him get financing for the project, Paul plans to release a full-length feature in August.

The other silver screen outing is A Dark Reflection by Fact Not Fiction Films, according to a full page ad in The Hollywood Reporter.

"What Happened on Flight 313?" it reads and shows a woman silhouetted at the end of a runway.

The runway lights glow behind her while overhead a passenger jet looms in the darkness lit by two harsh white lights.

Meanwhile the first book about the disaster went on sale today with a sinister theory about what might have happened.

Flight MH370 The Mystery doesn't claim to have any answers but to some extent supports the theory that the aircraft may have been accidentally shot down during a joint Thai-US military exercise in the South China Sea.
Searchers were then possibly led in the wrong direction to cover up the mistake, it suggested.

''In an age where a stolen smart phone can be pinpointed to any location on earth, the vanishing of this aircraft and 227 passengers is the greatest mystery since the Mary Celeste,'' the publicity for the book reads.

The book, written by author and journalist Nigel Cawthorne, records the events, emotions and theories unfolding on a backdrop of fruitless searches.

Cawthorne said in the introduction that ''almost certainly'' relatives would never be sure what happened to their loved ones.

''Did they die painlessly, unaware of their fate? Or did they die in terror in a flaming wreck, crashing from the sky in the hands of a madman?''

He said this raised the significance that around the time the plane's transponder went off at 01.21, New Zealander Mike McKay, working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Thailand, saw a burning plane.

He links that to the joint Thai-US military exercise going on in the South China Sea with personnel from China, Japan, Indonesia and other countries.

''The drill was to involve mock warfare on land, in water and in the air, and would include live-fire exercises,'' he wrote.

''Say a participant accidentally shot down MH370. Such things do happen. No one wants another Lockerbie [Pan Am flight 103 by terrorists in 1988 allegedly in retaliation for a US Navy strike on an Iranian commercial jet six months earlier], so those involved would have every reason to keep quiet about it.''

He suggested through anonymous and contradictory sources, they might release misinformation, leading people to search in the wrong place in an environment so hostile that it would be unlikely anything would ever be found.

''After all, no wreckage has been found in the south Indian Ocean, which in itself is suspicious,'' Cawthorne wrote.

''Now I'm not saying that's what happened but if a black box is found, who is to say that it is from flight MH370? Another black box could have been dropped in the sea 1000 miles from Perth while the search was going on in the South China Sea. In these circumstances, with the amount of disinformation abroad, it is best to be sceptical.''

Irene Burrows, the mother of Australian man Rod Burrows who was on the plane with his wife, Mary, said the book was premature.

''Nobody knows what happened so why would anyone want to put out a book at this stage?'' she said.

''There's absolutely no answers. It's devastating for the families. It's 10 weeks tomorrow and there's nothing,'' she said.

''There are so many theories that I only want to believe one, that they were all unconscious and didn't know what was going on.

''That's my only theory. That keeps me sane. All I want is for somebody to find a bit of plane. My husband wants a black box and I want a bit of plane to let me know just where they are.''

- Tim Barlass and AAP