Malaysia to send team to help ascertain if debris found off African coast is from missing MH370

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai speaking at a news conference about debris found on a beach in Mozambique, in Kuala Lumpur on March 3, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Malaysia is sending a team of experts to work with the Australian team and Mozambique authorities to determine if the piece of debris found is from the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370.

It will consist of representatives from the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and MH370 investigation team, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said.

Datuk Seri Liow, during a press conference held in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday (March 3), said the debris found on a beach in Mozambique fits the drift modelling used in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The aircraft was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when authorities lost track of it in March 2014. "If the debris is from MH370, it followed the drifting pattern established," he told reporters.

Australia's transportation chief had earlier on Thursday also said the debris found was consistent with the drift modelling for the missing flight, Reuters reported. Media reports have said the debris was found by Seattle lawyer Blaine Alan Gibson, who has been conducting his own investigation into the missing plane.

Mr Liow on Thursday also advised the public not to engage in speculation, so as to allow the authorities to confirm that the debris is from the missing plane first, before taking any follow-up actions.

"Lets not jump the gun. If it is really MH370, then we follow suit and launch a search (in the Mozambique area)," he said.

"Let's confirm first. We have to wait for verification."

On the search for the plane, which is expected to be completed in June, Mr Liow said they stand guided by the expert team that consists of many nations.

"As of the moment, we are focusing on the search area of 120,000 sq km. Now we've already covered 90,000 sq km," he said.

"It's too early to say if the search will be concluded by June. Once 120,000km is searched we will have a tripartite meeting, then experts will guide us on the next move."

The tripartite meeting is set to be held in June.

Mr Liow also said investigators will release an interim statement next week on MH370's second anniversary. "Under the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations, an interim statement must be released every anniversary (of an aviation disaster)," he added.

The first interim report, issued last year on the first anniversary revealed that the battery on MH370's underwater locator beacon had expired a year before the incident, AFP reported. However, the report largely summed up the facts that already were known and shed no new light on the mystery.

Analysts believe MH370 veered far off course to the remote southern Indian Ocean, where it went down. But an extensive two-year search led by Australian authorities has so far failed to turn up any sign of the missing plane.

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