SYDNEY, June 4 (Xinhua) -- A British sailor may have seen the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 on fire as it was crash diving from the sky, local press said Wednesday.
Katherine Tee was sailing from India to Thailand with her husband in March when she said she witnessed an aircraft surrounded by bright orange lights and with a tail of black smoke off the west coast of Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"It caught my attention because I had never seen a plane with orange lights before, so wondered what they were," Tee wrote on Cruisers Forum, an online sailing forum.
"I could see the outline of the plane, it looked longer than planes usually do. There was what appeared to be a tail of black smoke coming from behind it.
"There were two other planes passing higher than it -- moving the other way -- at that time. They had normal nav lights. I recall thinking that if it was a plane on fire that I was seeing, the other aircraft would report it.
"As I first observed it, 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."
Tee did not initially report her sighting to authorities or even to her husband, who she was having relationship difficulties with after 13 months at sea.
But recent media reports about the difficulties facing the search crew made her come forward this week and issue a detailed report to the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) in Australia.
"I wasn't sure of what I saw. I couldn't believe it myself. I even doubted my sanity, and didn't think anyone would believe me when I was having trouble believing my own eyes. So I dismissed it, and got on with the business of fixing me and my marriage," she said.
"All I can confirm is that I learnt last night that we were in the right place at the right time, so it seems possible."
The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau will call for tenders this week for vessels and sonar equipment to continue the hunt for the missing plane in a 80 million U.S. dollar mission that is budgeted for a year.
A Chinese ship has already begun conducting mapping of the Indian Ocean sea floor, so that sonar equipment can be towed safely and obstacles avoided.