Paris / Kuala Lumpur, July 31 (IANS) Malaysian authorities and international experts were “almost certain” that the plane wreckage found on Reunion island was part of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, media reports said on Friday.
MH370, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people onboard — 227 passengers and 12 crew members — vanished on March 8, 2014, the first and the only Boeing 777 to have disappeared over an ocean.
(Among the passengers were two Indo-Canadians: Muktesh Mukherjee, 47, and his wife Xiaomao Bai, 37. Mukherjee was vice-president of operations in China for the Pennsylvania-based XCoal Energy and Resources (see photo). He is the grandson of the late Indian minister Mohan Kumaramangalam.)
The wreckage found on Wednesday in Reunion, a French territory about 600 km east of Madagascar, resembled a flaperon — a moving part of the wing surface — from a Boeing 777. Also found was the remains of a battered suitcase.
“The flaperon is similar to that on a Boeing 777 aircraft. It’s almost certain,” Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said.
He, however, said it was too early to draw conclusions until there was solid proof that the debris belonged to the missing aircraft.
Martin Dolan, head of the Australian agency coordinating the underwater search for the plane, told CNN that he was “increasingly confident, but not yet certain” that the debris was from MH370.
Aviation investigators still have to make a definitive judgement on whether the item, which appears to be a wing component, was from the aircraft that disappeared on March 8 last year, with 239 people aboard, while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to China’s Beijing.
According to a report in The Telegraph, two mysterious bottles also washed up near the suspected MH370 debris. One was a bottle of Nongfu Spring mineral water, which is sold in China.
The second bottle was an unidentified brand of cleaning product, which appears to have come from Indonesia.
The Guardian reported that an identifying number, BB657, found on the flaperon should allow investigators to quickly confirm whether, as specialist aviation websites appeared to demonstrate, the part did originate from a 777.
The piece of wreckage will be sent to Toulouse, in France, on Saturday.
Aviation investigators from the Toulouse-based body, the General Directorate of Armaments, will analyse it next week.
The French defence ministry said it would then be analysed at special defence facilities.
Australia is leading the underwater search for the remains of Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean, some 3,700 km east of Reunion.
Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of the in-flight supervisor for the missing plane, told BBC that she was “torn” by the news.
“A part of me hopes that it is (MH370) so that I could have some closure and bury my husband properly but the other part of me says no because there is still hope,” she said.