PETALING JAYA - A British sailor has filed a report over her purported sighting of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 while crossing the Indian Ocean in March.
Katherine Tee, 41, said she was sailing from Cochin, India towards Phuket, Thailand with her husband Marc Horn, 50, when she saw what looked like a plane on fire crossing the night sky during her lone night watch on March 7-8.
"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," she told the Phuket Gazette on Monday.
Tee said the outline of the plane "looked longer than planes usually do", with what appeared to be a black plume of smoke streaming from its rear.
On that night, two other planes with normal navigation lights were moving in the opposite direction.
"I remember thinking that if it was a plane on fire that I was seeing, the other aircraft would report it,"she added.
Tee did not share her experience with anyone until they arrived in Phuket on March 10.
There, she heard news of the MH370 tragedy - where the aircraft carrying 239 people from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur vanished from radar screens in the early hours of March 8 and remains missing till this day - and told other sailors of what she saw.
"Some suggested I should say something, that (what I saw) might have been it. Most said that the flight was heading toward Vietnam. I wasn't sure of the date or time (of the sighting). I am still not," she said.
Tee doubted anyone else would believe her eyewitness account, hence her delay in making a report.
"Most of all, I wasn't sure of what I saw. I couldn't believe it myself, and didn't think anyone would believe me when I was having trouble believing my own eyes.
"I did think that what I saw would add little, and be dismissed with the thousands of other sightings that I assumed were being reported.
"I thought that the authorities would be able to track (the plane's) GPS log, which I assumed was automatically transmitted, or something like that," she added.
Nearly three months later, a radio news report prompted Tee to share what she saw with her husband, who cross-referenced their route only to discover that the yacht was in the vicinity of one of MH370's projected flight paths.
On Sunday, they filed a report with the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), the organisation coordinating the search for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
"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," said Tee.