Residents of Kuda Huvadhoo in Dhaalu Atoll, a remote island in Maldives, have claimed seeing a "low flying jumbo jet" white aircraft with "red stripes" fly across the island on the morning the Malaysia Airlines MH370 was first reported missing.
According to the Haveeru, a Maldivian daily newspaper, residents saw a plane similar to the missing flight MH370 passing overhead about 6.15 am on March 8. Islanders said it flew so low they could visibly see the plane's doors.
The plane was said to be flying North to South-East towards Addu which is located at the southern tip of the Maldives. Residents further noted the plane was flying with an incredibly loud noise when it flew over the island.
"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," an eyewitness recounted.
"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."
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), an Austria-based United Nations-backed watchdog, said the air carrier that's been missing for 11 days now could be around or near the Maldives area.
The last received "ping" that satellite data picked up from the flight MH370
suggested the flight was somewhere close to the Maldives and Diego Garcia.
"Our data could potentially shed light on the whereabouts of flight MH370," Lassina Zerbo, CTBTO executive secretary, said on their Web site.
CTBTO employs four technologies to detect any detect nuclear explosions, both on land or at sea, at any part of the world. But Mr Zarbo pointed out their International Monitoring System could also detect a large aircraft's explosion as well as its crash impact on the ground or on water.
"We owe it to the anxious families waiting for news of their loved ones that this potential is used to its fullest," Mr Zarbo said.
Search and rescue operations to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 and its 239 passengers have since expanded into the planet's southern corridor, including over several islands.
"The entire search area is now 2.24 million square nautical miles (7.7 million square kilometres)," acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Tuesday.
The search area has expanded north into south Central Asia, across far western China, including Xinjiang and Tibet, and deep south into the Indian Ocean located west of Australia.
Australia's total land mass is only 7.6 million square kilometres.
Male in the Maldives, the Diego Garcia United States air base, an airport in Sri Lanka, the Christmas Islands and the Cocos Keeling Islands have been included in the operations ever since investigators discovered them downloaded into the aircraft simulator in the house of the plane's pilot Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
A total of 26 countries have banded to help locate the missing plane. Maldives is not included.
"The simulation programmes are based on runways at the Male International Airport in Maldives, an airport owned by the United States (Diego Garcia), and three other runways in India and Sri Lanka, all have runway lengths of 1,000 metres," an unnamed source told the Malaysian local paper Berita Harian.
"We are not discounting the possibility that the plane landed on a runway that might not be heavily monitored, in addition to the theories that the plane landed on sea, in the hills, or in an open space," the source was quoted as saying."