A mobile application, named “Spot MH370 Debris,” has been developed by a Mauritius-based entrepreneur to help beachcombers join the ongoing search for debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, media reports said Tuesday. The news comes amid reports that debris recently discovered in the Maldives was most likely from a capsized boat and may not be linked to the missing plane.
The crowdsourcing tool will reportedly help people upload pictures of possible wreckage on islands near the current search zone that may lead to clues to the whereabouts of the missing plane. The focus of an international search into the plane's disappearance shifted to the French island of Réunion after a wingflap washed up on its shores last month. Mauritius, about 140 miles northeast of Réunion, has also joined the search for plane debris after Malaysia's appeal.
“The general feeling on the social networks and on the Internet is that we don't have enough information,” Eric Chaber, CEO of app developer Reefcube, said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday. He added that the app may help the families of Flight MH370 passengers to get direct access to information.
“I think that we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the families that have had no news of the victims for more than 500 days. They need to know ... they need to make their own opinion about it,” Chaber reportedly said.
Meanwhile, Voice 370, an organization of the next-of-kin of those on board Flight MH370, released a statement Wednesday rejecting Malaysia’s claims that the flaperon found on Réunion Island came from the missing plane, because French authorities examining the debris have not yet confirmed the link. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced last week that the part belonged to the plane.
“However, after one week, other experts have not concurred with the Malaysia declaration,” Voice 370 said, in a statement. “Needless to say, most families have refused to accept the Malaysian verdict, and are awaiting a more definite and conclusive analysis."
The Voice 370 statement also said families “are apprehensive about the handling of the whole incident from day one by the Malaysian authorities,” adding: "This led to families having doubts about their expertise, capabilities and intentions.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search for the plane, reviewed its analysis and said that the discovery of the flaperon at Réunion, 17 months after Flight MH370 went missing, "is consistent with the current underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean."
Malaysian authorities reportedly said Wednesday that three aviation experts have arrived in the Maldives to examine whether other debris found on the island could be from Flight MH370. The captain of a barge damaged off the Maldives' coast earlier this year said Tuesday that the wreckage was not from an aircraft.
"We have secured the debris already collected," Mohamed Shareef, an official in the Maldivian president's office, told Agence France-Presse, adding that he will be meeting the Malaysian team, led by Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of civil aviation in Malaysia.
Malaysian authorities have also alerted nearby Madagascar and South Africa to be on the lookout for possible debris that may wash up on these locations.
An international search operation has been ongoing since the plane's disappearance on March 8, 2014, with vessels scouring 46,332 square miles of the southern Indian Ocean.