A British sailor told Australian authorities that she saw what she now believes to be a plane on fire flying in waters off Thailand on the same day that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board, according to media reports.
Katherine Tee filed a report with the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is leading the search effort for the missing plane from Western Australia, claiming that a burning flying object that she spotted while sailing with her husband from Kochi, India, to Phuket, Thailand, could have been the missing Beijing-bound Boeing 777. Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, after veering off course shortly after take-off from Kuala Lumpur, and months of investigations have led to very little in the way of concrete findings, leading to widespread speculation about the plane's fate.
“I thought I saw a burning plane cross behind our stern from port to starboard, which would have been approximately north to south,” Tee wrote on sailing website Cruisers’ Forum. “Since that’s not something you see every day, I questioned my mind. I was looking at what appeared to be an elongate plane glowing bright orange, with a trail of black smoke behind it. It did occur to me that it might be a meteorite. But I thought it was more likely that I was going insane.”
Tee expressed her regret that she only spoke about what she saw nearly three months after the plane went missing.
"Will this help the authorities of the families get closure? I have no idea. All I can confirm is that I have since learnt that we were in the right place at the right time, so it seems possible, but I chose to sweep it under the carpet and now I feel really bad. Maybe I should have had a little more confidence in myself. I am sorry I didn't take action sooner," Tee told Phuket Gazette on Monday.
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She also reportedly did not speak about the sighting earlier because she doubted what she saw.
“So when we hit land everyone was talking about the missing plane and asking if we’d seen anything. Since I doubted what I saw and was emotionally in a bad way, I brushed over what I thought I’d seen... Besides, I thought they’d find it,” she reportedly said.
Tee said she had now decided to report what she saw after learning that authorities were searching for the plane in the wrong area. After posting maps of their yacht’s route on the sailing website, Tee and her husband confirmed that the yacht was in the area close to one of the projected flight paths of MH370.
Meanwhile, authorities reported Monday of two undersea receivers in the Indian Ocean having recorded a mysterious noise that could possibly have been made by an airliner hitting the water.
“If you ask me what’s the probability this is related to the flight, without the satellite data it’s 25 or 30 percent, but that’s certainly worth taking a very close look at,” Alec Duncan, a senior marine science research fellow at Curtin University near Perth in Western Australia, reportedly said, and described the low-frequency sound as "a dull oomph.”
However, the area from where the noise originated is reportedly off the southern tip of India in the central Indian Ocean, and about 3,000 miles from a region of the southern Indian Ocean where searchers have been looking for the jetliner in the past few weeks.
The Malaysia Airlines plane's disappearance has triggered a massive, international search effort involving dozens of countries and agencies, and one that is expected to become the most expensive search of its kind in aviation history.