New debris found in Reunion 'unlikely' from MH370
Updated: 2016-03-16 17:18
CANBERRA - Australian officials leading the search into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have expressed doubt that debris found recently on the island of Reunion is part of the missing jet.
Police officers inspect metallic debris found on a beach in Saint-Denis on the French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean on August 2, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]
In an update on the search operation on Wednesday, the Australian government's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said the debris, a 40cm x 40cm fragment of hard material, was unlikely to have come from MH370 or any other plane.
"Officials from Malaysia are continuing discussions with the French authorities about debris found on La Reunion. Current advice is that it is unlikely to be from an aircraft," the JACC statement said.
The most recent piece of debris was discovered almost two weeks ago on Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean by the same man who last year found a wing fragment, a flaperon that was proven to be MH370 wreckage.
Johny Begue found the square-shaped gray item with a blue border in nearly the same spot. But he said that unlike the flaperon there were no barnacles attached to the latest item.
The Malaysia Airlines passenger jet, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared with 239 people aboard on March 8, 2014.
In slightly more positive news for the families of those missing, the JACC statement said two other items found recently in Mozambique on the Africa's east coast were being brought to Australia for testing by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
"A South African citizen reported finding debris, suspected to be from an aircraft, in Mozambique," the JACC statement said on Wednesday.
"Arrangements are being made for the debris to be transported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau laboratories in Canberra, along with the debris that was found in Mozambique by an American citizen last week."
"Both items will be examined by investigators from Australia and Malaysia, as well as specialists from Boeing, to confirm if they come from an aircraft and establish their origin."
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is leading search operations for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia.
Four ships are currently involved in the operation: Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator, Havila Harmony and Dong Hai Jiu 101.
More than 90,000 square kilometers of the seafloor in the southern Indian Ocean have been searched so far. The entire search area is roughly 120,000 square kilometers in size.