SYDNEY (AFP, REUTERS) - Two pieces of debris found in Mozambique are "almost certainly from MH370", Australia's transport minister said on Thursday (March 24), following analysis by technical specialists probing the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
"The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370," Darren Chester said in a statement, adding that Malaysia’s MH370 investigation team had found that the pieces were consistent with panels from a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft.
"That such debris has been found on the east coast of Africa is consistent with drift modelling performed by (national science body) CSIRO and further affirms our search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean."
A white, metre-long chunk of metal was found off the coast of Mozambique this month by a US adventurer who has been carrying out an independent search for flight MH370. It arrived in Australia for testing earlier this week.
The debris was examined by investigators from Australia and Malaysia, as well as specialists from Boeing, Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University in Canberra.
Malaysia said this week it would send a team to retrieve a piece of debris found along the southern coast of South Africa to check whether it could also belong to MH370.
South African authorities said on Tuesday the fragment was picked up near Mossel Bay, a small town in Western Cape province. Mossel Bay is more than 2,000km from Vilankulo, the Mozambican resort where one of the pieces being examined in Australia was found.
Australia is leading the search for MH370 in the Indian Ocean, where the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight was believed to have diverted when it disappeared on March 8, 2014 carrying 239 passengers and crew.
The hunt is expected to wrap up in June-July if the aircraft is not found in the target zone of 120,000 square kilometres.
“The search for MH370 continues,” Chester added. “There are 25,000 square kilometres of the underwater search area still to be searched. We are focused on completing this task and remain hopeful the aircraft will be found.”
No crash site has been found and so far only a wing part from the Boeing 777 recovered from a beach on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion has been linked to MH370.