Saturday 1 October 2016

MH370: Aircraft debris almost certainly from a Boeing 777, says Malaysia's prime minister

David Kearns

Published 30/07/2015 | 16:00

French gendarmes and police carry a large piece of plane debris which was found on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion Credit: Prisca Bigot
French gendarmes and police carry a large piece of plane debris which was found on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion Credit: Prisca Bigot

Remains of an aircraft wing that washed up on an island in the Indian Ocean is to be sent to France to determine if it is the missing flight MH370, Malaysia's prime minister confirmed.

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Debris found on French island of Réunion is “very likely to be wreckage from a Boeing 777”, said Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak.

MH370, which disappeared almost 17 months ago, is the only unaccounted-for 777 in the world.

The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.

There were 239 passengers and crew on board the plane when it went missing.

Read More: Missing flight 370 linked to wing found on Indian Ocean island of Reunion

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said: "Initial reports suggest that the debris is very likely to be from a Boeing 777 but we need to verify whether it is from MH370.

Police officers look over a piece of debris that washed up on the French island of Reunion Credit: Reunion 1ere/AP
Police officers look over a piece of debris that washed up on the French island of Reunion Credit: Reunion 1ere/AP

Malaysia has sent a team to Réunion to examine the area where the debris was found, and Mr Najib said the flaperon – a two metre-long moveable part on the trailing edge of the wing – would be shipped to Toulouse in France for verification by the BEA, the French authority responsible for civil aviation accident investigations.

“A separate team of investigators from Malaysia were on its way to the island,” he said.

The suitcase reportedly found at Saint-André, Reunion Island. Photo: Antoine Forestier/ ‏@a_forestier
The suitcase reportedly found at Saint-André, Reunion Island. Photo: Antoine Forestier/ ‏@a_forestier

"As soon as we have more information or any verification we will make it public.

“I promise the families of those lost that whatever happens, we will not give up."

Police carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion Credit: Yannick Pitouy
Police carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion Credit: Yannick Pitouy

He added the location was consistent with drift analysis provided to Malaysian investigators.

Read More: Malaysia Airlines CEO says carrier 'technically bankrupt'

The two-metre chunk, which aviation experts say appears to be a flaperon, has an identifying number and was found covered in shells on Wednesday morning

Remnants of a badly damaged suitcase were also reportedly found close to where the plane debris was found.

Journalist ​Julien Delarue, who works for Journal de L'île de la Réunion on Reunion Island, reported on Twitter that what appears to be a suitcase has been found at Saint-André.

The debris was spotted off the coast of St Andrea, a small community on the island which is one of the overseas departments of France.

"It is way too soon to say whether or not it is MH370. We just found the debris this morning in the coast of Saint Andre," Adjutant Christian Retournat told CNN.

No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared in March 2014 carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.

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MH370 vanished from radar screens shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing, early on March 8.

Investigators believe it was flown thousands of miles off course before eventually crashing into the Indian Ocean.

A mechanic from the Réunion-based airline Air Austral told journalists he had studied the debris with French military officials and concluded with “99.9 pc certainty that it originated from a Boeing 777”.

He said the debris was stamped with the serial number 657-BB.

Oceanographer David Griffin, of Australia's national science agency, told the BBC that the location of the find was "consistent with where we think debris might have turned up".

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