As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 enters its 14th day, one Malaysian woman says she spotted the wreckage the same day it went missing.
Raja Dalelah, a 53-year-old woman from the Malaysian province of Johor, was on a flight home from Mecca on March 8, when she saw something unusual in the ocean below.
“It looked like an airplane,” Dalelah told The Star. “Throughout the journey, I was staring out of the window of the aircraft as I couldn’t sleep during the flight.”
Dalelah says she looked at the in-flight monitors in the cabin that showed the plane was over the Indian Ocean at the time. It had just passed the South Indian city of Chennai. Her flight, Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 2058, had departed Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at 8.30 a.m. Malaysian time. Dalelah claims at 2:30 p.m. Malaysian time she spotted the silver-looking object that was partially submerged with floats on either side.
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At the time, she was unaware a plane had gone missing. It was only after she landed at 4 p.m. and learned about Flight 370 did she file a police report about what she saw.
“I had seen several shipping liners and islands from my window earlier. Then, I saw the silvery object,” she said. “I took a closer look and was shocked to see what looked like the tail and wing of an aircraft on the water.”
Her friends who were on the flight with her laughed at her claims. Others have said it would be impossible for Dalelah to see a submerged airplane from roughly 35,000 feet. But despite the skepticism surrounding her claim, Dalelah remains convinced she saw Flight 370.
"I know what I saw. I am convinced that I saw the aircraft. And I will not lie. I had just returned from my pilgrimage," she said.
Dalelah initially filed a police report the same day she landed. At first, authorities began searching in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Now that the search has expanded to the Indian Ocean, Dalelah says family and friends that denied her claims are beginning to believer her, she said.
This led her to file a second report on March 14 in hopes that the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) would take her seriously.
“Many of my friends on the flight doubted me at first, but they are beginning to believe me now that we know the plane turned back and entered the Indian Ocean,” she said.
Five aircraft off the southwest coast of Australia have been searching for the missing plane that had 239 people onboard. The planned search area is 1,429 miles away from the western Australian city of Perth – a remote location where planes can search for just two hours at a time before needing to refuel.
"It's about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the earth, but if there is anything down there, we will find it,” Tony Abbott, the prime minister of Australia, said.