In Brief

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Flight MH370: Four new pieces of possible debris found

Several pieces of debris that could be from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that vanished more than two years ago have washed up on the beaches of Mozambique and Mauritius.

Two fragments found last week in Mauritius and one in Mozambique were "of interest" to the Australian team leading the search for the Boeing 777, according to the country's transport minister Darren Chester. The debris will be sent to Australia where it will be examined by aviation experts. 

"The Malaysian government is yet to take custody of the items, however, as with previous items, officials are arranging collection," he said in a statement.

Malaysian officials are currently deciding whether another fragment, found on the Mozambican Macaneta peninsula last week, warrants further investigation.

Don Thompson, a British engineer and member of the informal international group investigating MH370, told the BBC that the piece "does look like it's part of a Boeing 777" and that it was "in the right area where debris is expected to wash up."

So far, five pieces of debris have been confirmed as being definitely or probably from flight MH370, which vanished between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing more than two years ago.

"This is going to keep happening. It seems inevitable there are many more parts on beaches, yet to be found," says BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott.

"Or maybe they've already been found, the people just don't realise what they are yet."

MH370: new photo debunks 'planted debris' conspiracy theory

20 May

The long search for Malaysia Airlines plane MH370 is set to end by early August, according to the man spearheading the hunt in the southern Indian Ocean where the jet is thought to have crashed.

With less than 15,000 sq km remaining to be searched out of the 120,000 sq km target zone off western Australia, the chief of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau Martin Dolan said there was no indication the zone would be extended.

"We have some way to go and our best bet is that we will complete that search late July, early August, depending on unforeseen circumstances," Dolan told The Australian.

Although there is "technical capability" to continue the hunt, the resources to do so are a "matter for government," he added.

"At this point there is a diminishing level of confidence that we will find the aircraft," he said. "There will be a lot of disappointment if we don't find it."

Investigations have so far failed to solve the mystery over what happened aboard MH370, a scheduled flight that disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in one of air travel’s most baffling every mysteries.

Since debris from the missing flight MH370 began washing up on the shores of various coastlines, conspiracy theorists have questioned whether everything is as it seems.

Parts of the plane, which went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014, have turned up on the shorelines of South Africa, Reunion Island, Mozambique and Mauritius.

But some were suspicious about what they saw as a lack of marine life on the debris, which must have spent a long time in the Indian Ocean.

Jeff Wise, a private pilot and freelance writer, who has written a book on MH370, was among those to suggest the parts were planted.

"There is only one reasonable conclusion to draw from the condition of these pieces. Since natural means could not have delivered them to the locations where they were discovered, they must have been put there deliberately. They were planted," he wrote last month.

But Dr Schalk Lückhoff, a retired physician, has since posted a photograph he took of the debris – covered in barnacles – near Mossel Bay, a small town in Western Cape province, South Africa, back in December, three months before anyone realised that it could be from MH370.

Lückhoff told Africaans newspaper Netwerk 24 that he had not realised where the object might have come from and was reluctant to pick it up because the barnacles smelled so bad. When he returned later in the day, the whole object had washed away. 

Photo: Dr Schalk Lückhoff

By the time it was found in March by Neels Kruger, an archaeologist from Pretoria, the barnacles appeared to have washed off.

The piece of flotsam turned out to be an engine cowling with a Rolls-Royce logo, and Malaysian officials have said it is "almost certainly" from MH370.

The new photograph has dampened Wise's suspicions: "These photos make a compelling case for the idea – which I have strongly disputed here – that barnacle-encrusted pieces could be thoroughly cleaned by wave, sand, and sun after coming ashore.

"The implication, then, is that the pieces were not 'ineptly planted', as I asserted, but that the lack of biofouling is due to the pieces spending time ashore before they were discovered."

Meanwhile, Christine Negroni, who has also written a book on MH370, has dismissed the discovery of debris as "a big ho hum".

Writing for Forbes, she says the real question that has gone unanswered by anyone in Malaysia is: "What else is new in the investigation?"

MH370: New wreckage 'almost certainly' from plane

12 May

Two pieces of debris that washed up on beaches in South Africa and Mauritius are "almost certainly" from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared more than two years ago, Malaysian officials have said.

An engine cowling with a Rolls-Royce logo was discovered near Mossel Bay, a small town in Western Cape province, South Africa, in March by local archaeologist Neels Kruger. 

The other piece of wreckage was an interior panel from an aircraft cabin, found in April by hotel guests on Rodrigues Island, around 350 miles east of Mauritius Island.

Both pieces are said to be consistent with those found on Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft. No other 777 has crashed or gone missing in that part of the world.

Other wreckage has also been found along the coast of Mozambique and on Reunion Island, all of it "almost certainly" from MH370.

Investigators and amateur aviators alike have attempted to piece together Flight MH370's final hours after it went off the radar on 8 March 2014.

Military radar tracked the plane as it deviated from its flight path, before it went out of range an hour later. Investigators assume it went down somewhere over the Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board.

More than 85 per cent of the official 120,000sq-km search zone in the ocean has now been trawled. "We remain hopeful the aircraft will be found," Darren Chester, Australia's minister for infrastructure and transport, said.

A host of theories has sprung up to account for the crash and the latest discovery is unlikely to put a stop to the speculation. "All of this suggests the aircraft did crash into the sea," says the BBC's transport correspondent, Richard Westcott. "None of it tells us why."

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk

Flight MH370: Australian team to examine debris 

22 March

Two pieces of debris that may have come from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have arrived in Australia for testing.

The items were found on the Mozambique coastline, one in February and the other in December. The location of the debris is consistent with models of ocean currents showing where the sea might have carried the wreckage, reports BBC News.

One of the pieces, a flat grey fragment with the words "No Step" printed along one side, was found on a sandbank. The other is a 3ft-long piece of metal picked up by a South African holidaymaker.

A spokesman for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said yesterday: "Both pieces of debris were packaged in Africa and remained that way until arrival. They are being opened today with investigators from a range of countries and organisations."

However, Australia's infrastructure minister Darren Chester moved to dampen expectations of quick test results. "These are items of interest but because of the rigorous analysis to be performed, it is not possible to speculate on how long it might take to reach any conclusions," he said.

The pieces will also be examined by experts from Boeing, Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University in Canberra.

Flight MH370 disappeared carrying 239 passengers and crew on 8 March 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A piece of the plane's wing, washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, is so far the only confirmed fragment of the plane to be discovered.

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