MH370: Mauritius and South Africa debris 'almost certainly' from missing plane

image source, AP

Two pieces of aircraft debris found on beaches in Mauritius and South Africa almost certainly came from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, say Malaysian and Australian officials.

It is the latest development in efforts to solve the mystery of the aircraft, which went missing in March 2014.

The plane, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had 239 people on board when it vanished.

It is presumed to have crashed into the sea after veering off course.

Three ships are searching a 120,000 sq km area of the southern Indian Ocean but have so far found no trace of the plane.

Five pieces of debris have been confirmed as definitely or probably from the plane.

Each was found thousands of miles from the search zone, though within the area models of ocean currents have indicated debris could wash up.

MH370-linked debris

1. A section of wing called a flaperon, found on Reunion Island in July 2015 - confirmed as debris in September 2015

2. Horizontal stabilizer from tail section, found in Mozambique in December 2015

3. Stabilizer panel with "No Step" stencil, found in Mozambique in February 2016

4. Engine cowling bearing Rolls-Royce logo, found in March 2016 in Mossel Bay, South Africa

image source, ATSB

5. Fragment of interior door panel found in Rodrigues Island, Mauritius in March 2016

Enduring mystery - Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

I've just been at a summit of air accident investigators from across the world.

The Malaysian team wasn't there, but one message that came through is that it will be very, very hard to ever determine exactly what happened to MH370 from the pieces of debris currently washing up on beaches.

To solve the mystery once and for all, it's critical that they find the main body of the plane, including the black boxes.

The underwater search could come to an end next month. If it's fruitless, we may never know why MH370 disappeared.

That condemns the families to a lifetime in limbo and gives conspiracy theorists free rein.

World-famous pilot Amelia Earhart disappeared without trace over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. Even today, there are expeditions to find her aircraft and disputes over pieces of metal that might or might not be part of her plane.


All the debris is being examined in Australia by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and other experts.

They use manufacturing marks on the pieces as well as samples of marine ecology like barnacles to help confirm whether they are likely to have come from the missing Boeing 777.

Speaking on Thursday, Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the team had "confirmed that both pieces of debris from South Africa and Rodrigues Island are almost certainly from MH370".

The ATSB also said both sections were "almost certainly" from 9M-MRO, which is the plane's registration.

No other 777 has ever crashed in the southern hemisphere, and none has reported missing pieces.

The ocean search, involving Australia, Malaysia and China, has scoured more than 105,000 sq km of seafloor so far, much of it areas which have never been explored before.

But the countries have agreed that in the absence of "credible new information" the search will end by the middle of the year.

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