SYDNEY • Australia said yesterday that plane debris recovered from Mozambique was highly likely to have come from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which was carrying 239 people when it went missing more than two years ago.
A Malaysian government investigation team has found that both pieces of debris are consistent with panels from a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, said Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester.
"The analysis has concluded that the debris is almost certainly from MH370," he said. "That such debris has been found on the east coast of Africa is consistent with drift modelling... and further affirms our search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean."
Meanwhile, Malaysia said a coastal search needs to be conducted around South Africa and Mozambique for potential debris from MH370.
Two pieces of debris were found off the coast of Mozambique in December and last month, and another one was found along the southern coast of South Africa this month.
"There is a need for us to search the South African coast to find more debris. Malaysia is sending a team there and we are currently awaiting approval from the South African authorities," Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday.
RESULTS AFFIRM SEARCH EFFORTS
The analysis has concluded that the debris is almost certainly from MH370. That such debris has been found on the east coast of Africa is consistent with drift modelling... and further affirms our search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean.
MR DARREN CHESTER, Australia's Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
"The coastal search will be by a Malaysian team and focused around South Africa and Mozambique," he added.
Datuk Seri Liow, however, said the location for the underwater search need not be changed.
One of the two pieces found was a flat grey fragment with the words "No Step" printed along one side, found on a sandbank. Another was a metre-long piece of metal picked up by a holidaymaker.
Mr Liow said investigators had advised that the "dimensions, materials and construction" of both parts conformed to Boeing 777 specifications, while the "paint and stencilling on both parts match those used by Malaysia Airlines (MAS)".
"As such, both parts are consistent with panels from a MAS Boeing 777 aircraft, and almost certainly are from MH370," he said in a statement.
He added that the examinations conducted in Australia's capital Canberra took place from Monday to Wednesday.
Australia is leading the search for MH370 in the remote Indian Ocean, where the Kuala Lumpur- Beijing flight is believed to have diverted when it disappeared on March 8, 2014 carrying 239 passengers and crew.
Specialists, including from Australia and Boeing, have been conducting investigations in Canberra alongside the Malaysian team on the items found.
When a 2m-long wing part known as a flaperon washed up on a beach on the French overseas territory of Reunion Island last July, it was the first concrete evidence that MH370 had met a tragic end.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search, had said then that its location was consistent with drift modelling of where debris might have floated.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS