Saturday 10 December 2016

Two pieces of debris 'almost certainly' from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Published 12/05/2016 | 07:43

This handout combo released on May 12, 2016 by Australian Transport Sefety Bureau and Malaysian MOT shows an item of debris recovered from the beaches in South Africa and Mauritus. Getty Images
This handout combo released on May 12, 2016 by Australian Transport Sefety Bureau and Malaysian MOT shows an item of debris recovered from the beaches in South Africa and Mauritus. Getty Images

Malaysia says two more pieces of debris found in the Indian Ocean were "almost certainly" from Flight 370, which disappeared more than two years ago with 239 people on board.

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The latest items were discovered in South Africa and Rodrigues Island, off Mauritius.

The announcement means a total of five pieces of debris from the Malaysia Airlines jet have been discovered in various spots around the Indian Ocean since it vanished on March 8 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said the two new pieces were an engine cowling piece with a partial Rolls-Royce logo and an interior panel from an aircraft cabin, the first interior part found.

An international team of experts in Australia who examined the debris concluded that both pieces were consistent with panels found on a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, Mr Liow said.

"As such, the team has confirmed that both pieces of debris from South Africa and Rodrigues Island are almost certainly from MH370," he said in a statement.

Fariq Abdul Hamid, left, and Zaharie Ahmad Shah were the pilots on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
Fariq Abdul Hamid, left, and Zaharie Ahmad Shah were the pilots on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

In March, investigators confirmed two pieces of debris found along Mozambique's coast were almost certainly from the aircraft. Last year, a wing part from the plane washed ashore on France's Reunion Island.

Flight 370 is believed to have crashed somewhere in a remote stretch of the southern Indian Ocean about 1,100 miles off Australia's west coast. A search has found nothing so far.

International school students light candles to pray for passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Zhuji, China
International school students light candles to pray for passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Zhuji, China

Authorities had predicted that any debris from the plane that is not on the ocean floor would eventually be carried by currents to the east coast of Africa.

The discovery of the debris has bolstered authorities' assertion that the plane went down somewhere in the Indian Ocean, but none of the parts have yielded any clues on exactly what happened to the aircraft and precisely where it crashed.

Family members of passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that went missing in 2014, leave a building where Malaysia Airlines' Beijing office is at, after visiting the office to deliver their letters of demand in Beijing, China, March 7, 2016. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Family members of passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that went missing in 2014, leave a building where Malaysia Airlines' Beijing office is at, after visiting the office to deliver their letters of demand in Beijing, China, March 7, 2016. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Investigators are examining marine life attached to the debris to see if it could help narrow down where it entered the ocean, but have not discovered anything useful yet.

The most recent confirmed debris includes a piece discovered by an archaeologist who spotted it while walking along South Africa's southern coast, and another part found by tourists on Rodrigues Island.

The Australian Safety Transport Bureau said in a technical report that the interior part, identified by its decorative laminate, is a panel from the main cabin and believed to be part of a closet door.

The most critical clues lie in the elusive underwater wreckage, which would hold the flight data recorders, or black boxes. The recorders should reveal details related to the plane's controls, including whether aircraft systems that might have helped track the plane were deliberately turned off, as some investigators believe.

Crews have so far combed more than 40,000 square miles of the search zone to no avail. They expect to complete their sweep of the area by the end of June.

Press Association

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