KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: A piece of suspected plane debris found on the east African coast will be sent to Australia where experts will examine whether it is the latest piece in the puzzle of missing flight MH370, officials said.
The fragment of suspected aircraft wreckage was reportedly found on the coast of Mozambique, and photos of it have stirred hope it could provide clues into what befell the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said late Wednesday that initial information indicated a “high possibility” it came from a Boeing 777.
That is the same model of aircraft as the ill-fated MH370, which mysteriously vanished on March 8, 2014 on a routine overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew.
Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said the chunk of debris was approximately one metre (three feet) long.
“The debris is to be transferred to Australia where it will be examined by officials from Australia and Malaysia, as well as international specialists,” he said in a statement.
He added that the location of the possible find was consistent with oceanic drift models used by Australian authorities overseeing the huge and costly two-year deep-sea search for signs of MH370.
The saga has been marked by a history of false leads, however, and Liow cautioned against “undue speculation” until experts can have a look.
Last July, a wing fragment was found washed ashore on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.
Experts later determined it came from MH370, the only confirmed evidence of the plane’s fate so far.
Experts believe MH370 veered far off course to somewhere in the far-southern Indian Ocean, where it went down.
Found by American blogger
The news of the unconfirmed finding comes just days ahead of the disaster’s two-year anniversary.
Australian officials told AFP it was not yet clear when the debris would arrive there. They said Boeing experts would be among those examining it.
The debris was first reported by US television network NBC, which said it was found by an American citizen who has blogged extensively on MH370.
Citing US, Malaysian and Australian investigators who had seen photos of the object, NBC said the debris could be a horizontal stabiliser — a part of the tail.
The fragment was handed over to Mozambican authorities by its finder Blaine Gibson, said Joao de Abreu, president of Mozambique’s Civil Aviation Institute (IACM).
He said Gibson reported finding it earlier this week.
MH370’s disappearance remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.
Theories of what happened include a hijacking, rogue pilot action, or sudden mechanical problem that incapacitated the crew, but there is no evidence to support any one theory.
Passengers’ relatives accuse the airline and Malaysian government of a slow-footed, bungled response, as well as withholding information and treating families poorly. Both strongly deny the charges.
Families have begun filing a slew of lawsuits against the struggling carrier and the government in US, Malaysian, Chinese and Australian courts ahead of next week’s two-year anniversary, which also is the deadline for launching legal action against the airline.