Maldives islanders now say that they saw what they think was Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 zooming over their rooftops on the same morning that the now-missing Boeing 777-200 vanished. The small island nation, officially known as the Republic of Maldives, is located in the Indian Ocean nearly 2,000 miles from Kuala Lumpur, placing it near the outer limits of where investigators believe the plane could have flown.
Residents of an island called Kuda Huvadhoo in the Maldives archipelago say that they saw what they described as a "low flying jumbo jet" making an extremely loud noise at about 6:15 am on March 8.
The jet was white with red stripes, according to the Maldives island dwellers, a description that would match the colors of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
"I've never seen a jet flying so low over our island before. We've seen seaplanes, but I'm sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly," one Maldives resident told the country's newspaper, Haveeru. "It's not just me either, several other residents have reported seeing the exact same thing. Some people got out of their houses to see what was causing the tremendous noise too."
There are currently 26 countries involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but the Republic of Maldives is not among them, which may explain why reports of the purported sightings there have not surfaced until now, 11 days after the plane mysteriously vanished.
Investigators believe that the Malaysia Airlines plane was deliberately flown off of its course, and that its communications systems were shut down by someone on board, to purposefully render the jumbo jet invisible to ground trackers.
But if indeed the plane was flying at such an abnormally low altitude thousands of miles from its Beijing destination, that could also support the theory held by some pilots that the the plane was not, in effect, stolen. Instead, the pilots were desperately and heroically battling to save the plane after some sort of terrible on-board catastrophe — possibly a fire started in the cargo hold.
Under the theory of a fire on board, the pilots would have been nearly blinded and incapacitated by smoke, causing them to veer way off course and lose sight of the plane's altitude.
If that theory is correct, it could account for the reported low-flying jumbo jet over Maldives. But it would also raise the question, where did the plane go next?