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la reunion

MH370 search: Debris found on remote island is from a Boeing 777

A bag was also found washed up on the beach.

Updated 2.41pm

Ruptly TV / YouTube

INVESTIGATORS HAVE SCRAMBLED to study plane wreckage that washed up on a tiny Indian Ocean island, fuelling hopes that one of aviation’s greatest enigmas could finally be solved: the mystery of missing flight MH370.

The two-metre long piece of wreckage was found on the French island of La Reunion, offering up bittersweet hope of closure to the families of 239 people who disappeared in March last year on the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the debris, believed to be a part of a wing, was “very likely to be from a Boeing 777 but we need to verify whether it is from flight MH370.”

APTOPIX Missing Malaysia Plane AP AP

Part of a bag was also found not far from plane debris which has fuelled speculation it may be from the missing flight.

“The piece of luggage was here since yesterday but nobody really paid attention,” said Johnny Begue, a member of a local clean-up association who found the long piece of wreckage believed to be a part of a plane wing.

The fragment of material includes the closed zip.

It is really weird, it gives me the shivers.

“[The flaperon] was covered in shells, so one would say it had been in the water a long time,” another witness said.

Malaysia Airlines said it remained “too premature for the airline to speculate (on) the origin of the flaperon”, a wing component, but investigators have confirmed it is from a 777.

A flaperon is used when the plane is flying at low speeds.

Speculation is rife that the code seen on the wing matches a Boeing 777.

“This obviously is a very important development and if it is indeed wreckage from MH370, it starts to provide some closure for the families of the people on board,” said Australia’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss.

The Reunion islands are a very long way from the search area but it is consistent with the work that has been done in identifying the current search area, the satellite interpretations of the route path that the aircraft is expected to have taken.

“So a discovery of wreckage in that area would not be inconsistent with that advice.”

Truss has been overseeing the search of more than 50,000 square kilometres of the Southern Indian Ocean for the Malaysia Airlines plane, which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 8 last year.

Xavier Tytelman, an expert in aviation security, said it could not be ruled out that the wreckage belonged to MH370, which vanished without trace in March last year.

Tytelman noted that local media photos showed “incredible similarities between a #B777 flaperon and the debris found,” referring to a Boeing 777 — the type of plane that disappeared.

He also noted a reference on the wreckage: BB670.

“This code is not a plane’s registration number, nor serial number. However… it’s clear that this reference would allow a quick identification. In a few days, we will have a definitive answer,” Tytelman said.

Truss said it was possible that debris could travel the roughly 4,000 kilometres from the area considered the most likely impact zone in the southern Indian Ocean far off Australia’s west coast.


“The photos certainly have barnacles on them, so that would suggest that this wreckage has been in the water for a long time. So in 16 months a piece of wing could have travelled a very long way,” he said.

The minister added that he now expected a thorough hunt around the La Reunion area for further wreckage, which he said would primarily be the responsibility of Malaysia and France.

China Malaysia Plane Associated Press Associated Press

“We still believe the aircraft is resting in the water in the Australian search area and this (latest development) will be valuable information, but it is not likely to lead to any change to our search strategy at this time,” added Truss.

The work we have done in interpreting the satellite data has delivered to us the most likely place where the aircraft entered the water in the Indian Ocean and the area we are looking is certainly the most prospective site.

- © AFP, 2015, additional reporting by Nicky Ryan

Read: “Fascinating … But it’s not what we were looking for”: Shipwreck found in search for MH370>

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