As police and search crews scour the seas around Malaysia and Vietnam for missing jet MH370, a satellite company is letting web users around the world help in the hunt online.
DigitalGlobe has spent the last five days uploading high-resolution satellite and aerial images to its Tomnod site that let people explore the seas for clues about the crash, as well signs of a wreckage or oil slick.
Images are then tagged by users and analysed by experts before the most significant sightings are sent to the search teams in Asia.DigitalGlobe has put its high-resolution satellite images online so people can search for the missing Malaysia flight. User Mike Seberger tagged this image of what appears to be the wreckage of a plane underwater. The sighting is now being investigated by experts
Tomnod user Mike Seberger tagged an image taken on Sunday morning, which appears to show the outline of a plane underwater.
He is unsure of the exact location but is hoping the sighting will soon be verified.
Seberger told CNN: ‘At first, I skipped past it, thinking, 'Nah. No way I would find anything that quickly, but then I kept scrolling back to it and thinking to myself, It does resemble a plane.’
The Malaysia Airlines flight went missing on Saturday on its way to China - there were 239 people on board.
About an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the Boeing 777 flew over the south of Vietnam before vanishing from radars.
The last communication the Malaysian authorities received was as the plane crossed the boundary between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.
Air traffic control in Malaysia said it was handing the jet over to controllers in Ho Chi Minh city before contact was completely lost.
DigitalGlobe has already uploaded 1,300 square miles (3,200 square kilometres) of imagery on to its crowdsourcing site, Tomnod, and is adding more as and when it becomes available.
Malaysia's Department Civil Aviation Director General, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, pictured left, with Malaysian Airlines CEO Group Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, pictured right, during a press conference on the new search area
More than 25,000 people have already signed up to help search for the plane, and as a result the site has repeatedly crashed.
Initial search efforts concentrated on waters between Malaysia and Vietnam before being extended to the Malacca Strait and the Andaman Sea.
DigitalGlobe’s imagery is being uploaded to reflect this search area – although it covers approximately 27,000 square nautical miles (92,000 square km), meaning there may be a delay.
To use the site, users zoom in on each satellite image and drop a pin if they spot anything they believe could be related to the crash.
The system additionally has a tool that will search for and automatically flag any overlapping tags, suggesting more than one person has found something significant in that region.
All of these tags are analysed by experts and the top ten most likely and significant spots will be shared with the Malaysian authorities.
DigitalGlobe's Luke Barrington said that before passing any information over to the authorities, the experts are working on being 100 per cent sure its relevant so not to waste the search teams’ time or give anyone false hope.
This is not the first time Tomnod has been used in this way.
Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines in November, thousands of people signed up to search for and identify missing objects and damaged landmarks.
‘We are working to best handle an unprecedented level of web traffic and interest in supporting the Malaysia Airlines jetliner search,’ the Colorado company said in a statement.
‘Please check back soon. We have new imagery collections planned for today and hope to make those images available online for the crowd as soon as possible.’
There is still no trace of the plane and a total of nine aircraft and 24 ships have already been deployed to search for the wreckage.
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The search for the missing aircraft has widened considerably after previous prediction of its whereabouts proved fruitless. It remains a mystery how a Boeing 777 could have disappeared without a trace in such relatively shallow seas
Vietnamese military personnel prepare a helicopter for a search and rescue mission for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight
Source: Mail Online