MH370: Find 'will help narrow search area'

A Malaysian expert (left) looking for debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on Reunion Island on Aug 4.
A Malaysian expert (left) looking for debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on Reunion Island on Aug 4.PHOTO: AFP

As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues, the discovery of a wing flap from the missing jet will help narrow down the search area, Malaysia's Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said, as the news elicited mixed reactions from the relatives of those on board.

Many said they still needed to see concrete proof and some Chinese relatives staged a protest outside the airline's office in Beijing.

Prime Minister Najib Razak announced early yesterday that a wing flap, called a flaperon, found last week on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean came from MH370.

"Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370," Datuk Seri Najib said.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin, who was acting transport minister in the early days of the search, said yesterday: "With the leads we now have from Reunion island, I think we can further narrow down the search area. I am confident it is not only being considered by the Transport Ministry... but also experts from other countries, especially Australia and China."

MH370 went missing after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing on March 8 last year with 239 passengers, most of them Chinese nationals, and crew on board.

French investigators who analysed the wreckage would only say there was a "very high probability" it came from MH370 and that they intended to do more tests before making a definitive conclusion.

The Australian authoritiesleading the search in the southern Indian Ocean said they were confident they were looking in the right area and that the plane would be found.

While Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said he respected the French decision to do more verification tests, he also said the maintenance seal found on the flaperon matched MAS records, as did the colour of the paint.

He added that investigators on Reunion collected more debris, including a plane window and aluminium foil, but there was no confirmation if they belonged to MH370.

The latest discovery seemed to do little to bring closure to the relatives of some Chinese passengers. Some accused the Malaysian government of still hiding the truth.

China's Foreign Ministry in a statement yesterday urged Malaysia to carry on with the investigation into the plane's disappearance and to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the victims' families.


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Wing flap find unlikely to solve mystery

Small part of plane, but a significant find

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline 'MH370: Find 'will help narrow search area''. Print Edition | Subscribe