A satellite image of the possible remains of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been released by a popular crowdsourcing map-search website and posted on Reddit.
Tomnod, a crowdsourcing platform powered by satellite operator DigitalGlobe, joined the search for the vanished flight last week, with three million ordinary internet users using the website to scan more than 24,000 square kilometres of satellite imagery to help find the airplane.
On Sunday, the website released a picture of what appears to be debris from an airplane, floating on the surface of the Malacca Strait, an area previously combed for signs of the plane by Malaysia.
Through Tomnod, internet users can scan thousands of kilometres of recent satellite footage collected by DigitalGlobe, and tag anything they believe may be related to the MH370 flight. The crowdsourcing website’s Facebook page details when new satellite imagery will be updated, and people are encouraged to search the satellite images provided by the company.
Other recent efforts by the website include mapping the damage to buildings and roads caused by super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, as well as attempting to find an airplane that disappeared while flying over the Idaho wilderness in January.
The image was posted on Reddit on Sunday under the heading: ‘‘Could this be MH370?’’
Reddit users have been quick to comment on the image, with one stating: ''This matches the 777 perfectly in scale. I made a quick animation with an overlay of the 777''.
The image has since been picked up by Twitter, with reports that it is being investigated by authorities.
On March 13, Malaysia's Air Force chief denied saying Flight 370 was tracked deviating from its path into Malacca Strait, adding to the confusion surrounding the search for the missing plane. ''It would not be appropriate for the Royal Malaysian Air Force to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft's flight path until a high amount of certainty and verification is achieved,'' General Rodzali Daud said in a statement. He was referring to a report that he said cited him as saying an air base detected the plane in Malacca Strait.
Crowdsourcing uses technology to harness the combined skills or financial backing of large numbers of people to achieve a goal. The trend has become a popular way to fund causes and projects by allowing many participants to contribute small amounts of money which can add up to substantial amounts.
During emergencies crowdsourcing can also be used to help identify likely areas where survivors could be found, or undamaged buildings that could be used for shelter.
The search for the Malaysia Airlines flight, which enters its 10th day, has baffled the world in what has quickly become the most mysterious airplane disappearance in the history of modern aviation.
The last satellite transmission from the Boeing 777-200 on March 8 may have come from over Indonesia or the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian officials said. The alternative is that the transmission came from western or southwestern China, or from nearby areas of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan or northern Laos.
Speculation about the fate of the plane has evolved over the past week, with numerous contradictory theories proposed. Most recently, residents on the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives, about 700 kilometres south-west of Sri Lanka, have reported seeing a ''low-flying jumbo jet'', raising expectations the Malaysia Airlines plane could have crashed nearby.