An IT manager from Chicago, United States, may have tracked down the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – simply by surfing the Internet.
A report in the Daily Mirror said Mike Seberger might have found the location of the missing aircraft after scrutinising a high-resolution satellite photo taken above the seas where the plane disappeared from the radar on Saturday morning.
The image he spotted shows a plane-shaped object under a bank of white cloud in the Gulf of Thailand.
Seberger, 47, found the mystery object after logging on to the Tomnod website, which uploaded the satellite images of 1,600 square kilometres the day after the plane disappeared.
Around half a million volunteers signed up for the online mission on the first day and up to 100,000 people a minute have been using the website. The site has frequently crashed from the high traffic.
The site works by allocating each viewer a tiny square of the search area.
The viewer then scrutinises that image in detail – a technique known as "crowdsourcing".
The satellite photos were taken 400 miles above the earth on March 9 and can capture a detail as small as a penalty spot on a football field, said the Mirror report.
If viewers see something of interest, they flag up the detail to the website managers.
The Mirror quoted Seberger as saying that it took him only a few minutes to find the image, whose dimensions are said to be consistent with a Boeing 777.
"At first I skipped past it, thinking, ‘Nah. No way I would find anything that quickly.
“But then I kept scrolling back to it and thinking to myself, ‘It does resemble a plane.’”
The search area for flight MH370 has been almost doubled since the plane disappeared last Saturday. At least nine people have said that they had seen the plane just before it went missing.
One was from a New Zealander on a rig off Vung Tau in southern Vietnam who said he had seen a “burning object” about 200 miles out to sea.
Oil rig worker Michael McKay claims to have seen it happen and sent an email to his employer about what he saw.
ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff obtained a copy of that email.
McKay wrote that he believed he saw the MAS plane go down.
"The timing is right. I tried to contact the Malaysian and Vietnam officials several days ago. But I don’t know if the message has been received," he said.
McKay also described what he believed to be a plane burning at high altitude, about 50-70km away from his location on the oil rig 'Songa Mercur' off Vung Tau.
He said while he “observed the burning (plane), it appeared to be in one piece.”
“From when I first saw the burning (plane) until the flames went out (still at high altitude) was 10 to 15 seconds,” he wrote.
“There was no lateral movement, so it was either coming toward our location, stationary (falling) or going away from our location.”
The oil rig worker also provided GPS coordinates of his location and an approximate location where he saw the plane.
Globalnews reported that Woodruff said Vietnamese authorities confirmed that they had received McKay's email. – March 13, 2014.