In yet another odd twist to the mysterious story of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, a New Zealand man working on an oil rig in the South China Sea has come forward to say he believes he saw the airplane on fire right around the time it disappeared.
Mike McKay, an worker on the "Songa Mercur" drilling platform, sent an email to his bosses detailing his version of events. McKay said that he "observed the plane burning at high altitude...in one piece" about 50-70 KM from his location. He gave coordinates for the location of the rig, which recently moved from Cuba to the shores of Vietnam. McKay's employer confirms that the letter, posted online by several news outlets today, is authentic.
ABC's Bob Woodruff spoke with the Japanese Idemitsu Oil & Gas Co after acquiring the letter to confirm the letter's veracity. McKay, who carries a New Zealand passport, said that he tried to contact Malaysian and Vietnam officials about what he saw "several days ago," adding that he'd received no confirmation that they got his message. Vietnamese officials confirmed to ABC that they'd received the letter. Apparently, they found nothing in the water at the location specified by McKay.
Given the apparently location of the rig, and the original flight path of MH370, it's possible that McKay is correct. But that would also seem to discount the theory that the plane turned and headed in the complete opposite direction, as some military authorities have (at least temporarily) claimed.
Meanwhile, officials are expanding their search for the still-missing plane, and the 239 people on board. There are several reports indicating that the plane may have veered off its intended flight path and changed direction before disappearing from radar, but those reports conflict as to where, exactly it went. At least 10 countries are involved in the Malaysian-led search for the missing jet, which carried passengers from at least 13 different countries, although most of the passengers were Chinese citizens.
Here's the full letter: