Fishermen Plane Sighting a Tip or False Lead in MH370 Hunt?

PHOTO: ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff speaks with fisherman in Khota Baru, Malaysia.
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Fishermen from this village believe they may have seen the missing Malaysia Airlines flight on the night it disappeared flying low over the Gulf of Thailand.

It's not clear whether what they saw was flight MH370 or whether it is the latest in a string of false leads in the search for the missing plane, but if true it would suggest that the plane may have flown low to avoid radar, what is known as "terrain masking."

On March 8 flight MH370 disappeared from radar as it flew north over the Gulf of Thailand towards Vietnam en route to Beijing. Investigators believe it made a sharp turn to the west about the time it vanished from radar and lost contact with air traffic controllers.

Azid Ibrahim, Rahim Mamat and six other men left Kota Bharu in northern Malaysia for tuna fishing that night and were 10 miles out at sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, an area that would have been in the plane's initial flight path. Suddenly a plane came thundering overhead, louder and lower than Ibrahim had ever seen. The plane was heading west, Ibrahim said. Mamat agrees with what they saw.

The fishing boat returned to Kota Bharu in the morning and when they heard about the plane's disappearance they reported what they saw to the local police.

Kota Bharu is also the home town of the plane's young co-pilot Fariq Hamid. At a kindergarten near Hamid's home, children were praying for the people aboard flight MH370.

It is unclear whether the plane the fishermen saw was the missing flight, but investigators have chased other tips that turned out to be false leads including an oil rig worker who saw something fall into the Gulf of Thailand that night, oil slicks, reports of floating luggage and what was believed to be a plane's upturned life raft. All have been investigated and determined to be bogus.

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