MH370 search: Reunion debris ‘very likely’ part of plane


Debris found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion is “very likely” to be from the missing flight MH370, an Australian official has said.

Martin Dolan, who heads Australia’s search efforts, also said the operation was continuing “in the right place” in the southern part of the ocean.

The wreckage, said to be a wing part, is to be flown to France for analysis.

The Malaysia Airlines flight – a Boeing 777 travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing – vanished in March 2014.

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

The debris washed up on Reunion island on Wednesday, some 4,000km (2,500 miles) from the area where MH370 is thought to have gone down.

Mr Dolan, who heads the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said that he was “increasingly confident that the wreckage… is associated with a 777 aircraft”.

Aviation experts who have studied photos of the debris say it resembles a flaperon – a moving part of the wing surface – from a Boeing 777.

“There is no other recorded case of a flaperon being lost from a Boeing 777,” Mr Dolan said.

“We are confident we have the quality of the search to cover that area and find the missing aircraft,” he added.

However, Mr Dolan also said the discovery of debris would not help pinpoint where the plane went down.

“Over the last 16 or 17 months, any floating debris would have dispersed quite markedly across the Indian Ocean,” he said.

Guided by signals from the plane that were detected by satellite, authorities believe it went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

However, no physical evidence of this has ever been found and in January Malaysian authorities declared that all on board were presumed dead.

Earlier, Australian officials and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the location of the debris was consistent with drift analysis provided to investigators.

The wreckage is expected to be flown to the French city of Toulouse later on Friday. French media quote officials as saying it will be examined by experts next week.

Chris Bockman in Toulouse says aviation authorities have a huge hangar facility to store and study wreckage – as they did with the Air France airliner that crashed on its way from Brazil to Paris in 2009.

Transport correspondent Richard Westcott says the object may have a data tag with a serial number that could be directly traceable to MH370. Even if there is no tag, it should have a traceable manufacturer’s stamp, he adds.