October 28, 2016

MH370 search: New debris found on Madagascar beach

Blaine Gibson made the find on an island in eastern Madagascar

New pieces of debris have been found in Madagascar by a man searching for parts of missing flight MH370.

Blaine Gibson, who has already found possible debris in Mozambique, made the latest discovery on the east coast of Madagascar.
One of the parts resembles an aeroplane seat part. Mr Gibson has sent images of the finds to investigators.
MH370, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had 239 people on board when it vanished in March 2014.

The Malaysia Airlines flight is presumed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean after veering off course.
The latest find was made on Riake beach, on the island of Nosy Boraha in north-east Madagascar.
A number of other pieces of debris, some confirmed to have come from MH370, have been found in countries near Madagascar.

Mr Gibson, a lawyer from Seattle, has funded his own search for debris in east Africa.

Analysis: Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

I recently met Blaine Gibson in Malaysia.

This is a man who is now dedicating himself to travelling the globe, finding possible pieces of MH370.
He doesn’t get involved with the conspiracy theories, he just wants to find evidence.

It’s likely that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of MH370 plane parts littered on beaches in that part of the world. Pieces of the puzzle washed up more than two years after the aircraft disappeared.

Although these latest finds must be verified by the authorities, it seems to confirm that the aircraft ended up roughly where they are looking, in the Indian Ocean six days’ sail from Australia.

What the pieces are unlikely to tell us is how the aircraft got there.

Don Thompson, a British engineer who is part of an informal international group investigating MH370, said he thought one piece was from the back of a seat, and the other could be part of a cover panel on a plane wing.

“The seat part I am 99.9% sure on,” he told the BBC. “It’s the right colour of fabric for Malaysian Airlines. It shows the seat had to have disintegrated to have come away.”

Mr Gibson said images of the latest finds had been sent to investigators at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and to officials in Malaysia.

He said he was ready to hand over the pieces to authorities in Madagascar.

The ATSB confirmed they had received the latest images, and said it was Malaysia that assessed any new leads.
Also on Thursday, an ATSB spokeswoman said they were investigating whether debris found on Kangaroo Island in South Australia may have come from MH370.

Footage broadcast on Australia’s Channel Seven showed white wreckage that included the words ‘Caution No Step’.
Australia has been leading the search for the missing aircraft, using underwater drones and sonar equipment deployed from specialist ships.
The search, also involving Malaysia and China, has seen more than 105,000 sq km (65,000 sq miles) of the 120,000 sq km search zone scoured so far.

All the debris is being examined in Australia by the ATSB and other experts.

But countries have agreed that in the absence of “credible new information” the search is expected to end in the next two months.

Where confirmed or suspected MH370 debris was found

  1. A section of wing called a flaperon, found on Reunion Island in July 2015 – confirmed as debris in September 2015
  2. Horizontal stabilizer from tail section, found between Mozambique and Madagascar in December 2015
  3. Stabilizer panel with “No Step” stencil, found in Mozambique in February 2016
  4. Engine cowling bearing Rolls-Royce logo, found in March 2016 in Mossel Bay, South Africa
  5. Fragment of interior door panel found in Rodrigues Island, Mauritius in March 2016
  6. Fragments including what appears to be a seat frame, a coat hook and other panels found on Nosy Boraha island in north-east Madagascar.

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