Saturday 10 December 2016

Mysterious metal debris may be part of missing MH370

Grant Peck

Published 25/01/2016 | 02:30

The suspected plane debris was found on the Thai coast Photo: Reuters
The suspected plane debris was found on the Thai coast Photo: Reuters

A large chunk of metal that could be from an aircraft has washed ashore in southern Thailand but Malaysian authorities refused to speculate on a link to a Malaysia Airlines flight missing almost two years.

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Flight MH370 lost communications and made a sharp turn away from its Beijing destination before disappearing in March 2014. It is presumed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, and only one piece of debris has been identified, a slab of wing that washed ashore on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean last July.

Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said he instructed Malaysian civil aviation officials to contact Thailand about the newly-found wreckage, a curved piece of metal measuring about two metres by three metres with electrical wires hanging from it and numbers stamped on it.

"I urge the media and the public not to speculate because it will give undue pressure to the loved ones of the victims of MH370," he said.

Thailand's transportation ministry said four Malaysian officials and two Thai experts will visit the site today.

Mr Liow said the search for the jet, which carried 239 people, is ongoing in the southern Indian Ocean. Australia has led a multinational search costing more than €110m.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman Dan O'Malley said the agency was awaiting results of an official examination of the debris.

The chunk of metal was found on the eastern coast of southern Thailand's Nakkon Si Thammarat province, about 600km south of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand.

While debris can drift thousands of kilometres on ocean currents, that location would be a surprise based on the data from flight MH370.

Tracked

The plane was tracked by radar flying over the South China Sea, then making a sharp turn west for unknown reasons.

It crossed the Malay Peninsula and Straits of Malacca, which would put it off Thailand's west coast.

Radar contact was lost shortly after the plane entered the airspace over the Indian Ocean. Analysis of exchanges between its engine and a satellite determined the plane flew south on a straight path for hours, leading authorities to believe it flew on autopilot until it ran out of fuel.

Irish Independent

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