7 Things You Didn't Know About Diego Garcia
February 09, 2017 8:32 AM
Diego Garcia, the militarised island in the middle of the Indian Ocean has gained a fair bit of attention this year since it was claimed that the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 could have landed there. The grim history of the island was revealed in the 2009 book, 'The Island Of Shame.'
1. Diego Garcia Is Part Of The UK
Diego Garcia is technically part of the UK, located on the content of Asia and part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. The US were granted permission to use the island as a military base in 1966 in exchange for cancelling a $14 million British debt for a military hardware purchase. Diego Garcia is now home to around 4,000 military personnel and support staff in 654 buildings.
2. It's A Volcano
Diego Garcia is the site of an ancient volcano. However, it has now been reduced to a horseshoe-shaped coral reef, with a perimeter of approximately 40 miles and a maximum elevation of 22 feet. It stretches for 15 miles, north to south, and about 35 miles from tip to tip of its horseshoe shape.
3. The Navy Moved 2,000 Inhabitants From The Island
According to the 2009 book 'Island of Shame', when the US Navy took control of Diego Garcia it forcibly removed its 2,000 inhabitants, sending them to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they were left on the docks, with no money and no housing, to fend for themselves. Prior to their departure their pet dogs were rounded up and gassed, their bodies were burned in front of their eyes.
4. Part Of The Global Positioning Network
As well as the network of GPS satellites, there are just five ground antennas the world that assist the operation of the Global Positioning System, and one of those antennas is located on Diego Garcia.
5. Claims Of A Secret US Prison Camp
Retired United States Army General Barry McCaffrey twice made claims that Diego Garcia is the site of a secret US prison camp. These rumours could be routed in claims of credible evidence exists supporting allegations that ships serving as black sites have used Diego Garcia as a base. However, in 2004, the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that US government had repeatedly assured him that no detainees had passed in transit or been held on Diego Garcia.
6. Launchpad For Attacks On Afghanistan
The island was a major launchpad for the US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. The island is home to some of the US's most deadly planes, including B-52s, B-1Bs and B-2 bombers. In 2007, the Pentagon granted a $32 million contract to add a submarine base to the island's existing dock.
7. Missing Flight MH370 Landed There
Conspiracy theorist made wild claims this year, that missing Malaysian flight MH370 was landed on the more than adequate runway of Diego Garcia. A freelance journalist claims to have received a photo via text message from an MH370 passenger calling himself Phillip Wood. Data contained with in the black iPhone photo contained GPS information which placed Wood on the island. The internet was quick to quash these claims offering the more likely explanation that the photo is a fake. The question of whether the plane was landed on the island was asked in a White House press conference, press secretary Jay Carney simply answered "I'll rule that one out."
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