Speculation about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has put the tiny atoll of Diego Garcia on the map.
IN light of the recent events surrounding the ill-fated MH370 flight that disappeared from radar detection in the early hours of March 8, numerous geographic locations have come to light, and one in particular that has become a point of interest among investigators and ordinary folk is a little-known spot in the middle of the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia.
The atoll, which takes the form of a ring shaped reef, first came to world attention in 2004 after the Asian tsunami disaster and now has resurfaced thanks to conspiracy theories that have sprung up connecting MH370 to it.
Because of its favourable ocean topography, including a deep underwater trench, the island was shielded from major damage during the 2004 tsunami. While a 1.8m-high wave did hit the island, the underwater canyon essentially bore the brunt of the assault and there was no major impact on the island’s facilities or its people.
As a US military and intelligence base, the island has remained under a cloud of secrecy for decades. Island Of Shame, a book written by an anthropologist, Assoc Prof David Vine, details how the base was a little-known launch pad for the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured. Drawing on interviews with Washington insiders and military strategists, Vine’s book claims to expose the secret history of Diego Garcia and also chronicles the story of the island’s native inhabitants who were exiled and reportedly continue to fight to return to their homeland.
A report in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph on April 2 said that Chagos Islanders who had been exiled from Diego Garcia by the British in the 1960s are fighting to get their island back (tinyurl.com/p8y5dw8).