Katherine Tee, a 41-year-old female British sailor, said Tuesday that she may have spotted Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 flying over the Indian Ocean on the night of March 8 when the plane mysteriously disappeared seemingly without a trace. To add more intrigue to the investigation, Tee said the plane may have been on fire.
Tee had been sailing for 13 months and was traveling from Cochin, India to Phuket, Thailand, with husband, Marc Horn, according to the Phuket Gazette paper. Tee, however, said she was on the deck by herself when she saw what could have been the missing plane.
She filed a report with officials on the possible sighting of the plane. Tee stated she was originally unaware that the plane was missing.
“I was on a night watch. My husband was asleep below deck and our one other crew member was asleep on deck,” Tee told the Phuket Gazette. “I saw something that looked like a plane on fire. That’s what I thought it was. Then, I thought I must be mad… It caught my attention because I had never seen a plane with orange lights before, so I wondered what they were.”
“I could see the outline of the plane, it looked longer than planes usually do. There was what appeared to be black smoke streaming from behind it,” Tee, who is from Liverpool in England, told the paper.
Tee added that two other planes were visible in the night sky.
“There were two other planes passing well above it – moving the other way – at that time. They had normal navigation lights. I remember thinking that if it was a plane on fire that I was seeing, the other aircraft would report it,” she added. “And then, I wondered again why it had such bright orange lights. They reminded me of sodium lights. I thought it could be some anomaly or just a meteor. It was approaching to cross behind our stern from the north. When I checked again later, it had moved across the stern and was moving away to the south.”
Authorities believe the plane, bound from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, turned sharply and flew to the southern Indian Ocean. Yet not a single piece of the missing Boeing 777 has been found.
The Malaysian official in charge of the search, Defense Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, visited Beijing this week, and relatives asked to meet him but got no reply, said Steve Wang, whose mother was on the plane.
This week, the Malaysian government gave in to pressure from families of passengers and released 45 pages of satellite data it used to determine that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
Over the past few days of the endlessly perplexing hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, much debate and confusion has swirled around what was once dubbed the most promising lead in the search: a series of underwater signals, or “pings,” picked up by sound-detecting equipment scouring the remote Indian Ocean in early April.
At the time, officials said they were consistent with a plane’s black boxes. But an underwater sub that spent weeks scouring the seabed in the area near where the signals were detected found nothing, and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is helping head up the search, this week ruled the area out as the plane’s final resting place.
The search is now on hold for two months while new, specialized equipment can be brought in to scan a 700 kilometer by 80 kilometer (430 mile by 50 mile) arc of ocean that was largely identified by an analysis of hourly transmissions, or “handshakes,” between the plane and a satellite. The seventh and final handshake involved a logon request consistent with a plane powering up its satellite communication equipment after a power interruption — leading investigators to believe the plane had nearly exhausted its fuel supply.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.