UPDATE: 1:42 a.m. EST — Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai reportedly said Thursday that they expect to find more debris after an object, suspected to be part of a Boeing 777 plane, the same build as the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, washed up on the Mozambique coast.
The transport minister also said that authorities can’t be conclusive about the debris until its analysis is complete. Liow said, during a press conference, that the Mozambique debris has been sent to Australia, but the custody of the object remains with Malaysia, a Channel News Asia correspondent wrote on her Twitter account. He also said that experts examining the debris will give out their latest findings, but will not speculate if the results will bring any changes to the current search area in the southern Indian Ocean.
A tripartite meeting will reportedly be held in June to discuss about the ongoing search for the missing plane.
The location of debris found in the southeast African nation of Mozambique is consistent with the drift modeling linked to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, a spokesman for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search for the plane, said Thursday. Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that there is a “high possibility” that the debris belongs to a Boeing 777 plane, the same type as Flight MH370.
The debris was found over the weekend on a sandbank in the Mozambique Channel — the ocean strait between Mozambique and Madagascar. Photos of the 3.3 feet piece of metal surfaced online, and the debris is currently being investigated for any links to Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Daniel JT O'Malley, the communications officer for ATSB, told International Business Times that the debris will “be brought to the ATSB laboratories in Canberra.” He also added that details for the transport of the debris are still being worked out by the governments of Australia, Malaysia and Mozambique.
“The ATSB, along with representatives from Malaysia and experts from the manufacturer, will examine the characteristics of the debris to confirm that it comes from the correct type of aircraft. They will also look for any identifying marks, such as serial numbers, that could identify it as coming from MH370,” O'Malley told IBTimes.
If the debris is confirmed to be from Flight MH370, this would be the second piece of evidence after a flaperon that washed ashore on France's Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean — about 2,300 miles away from the current search area — in July 2015.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester’s also said the debris location was consistent with the drift modeling, and thus reaffirms that search vessels are looking for the plane in the right part of the Indian Ocean.
A multimillion-dollar search operation has been ongoing for nearly two years in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, with no concrete clues as to what happened to the Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Search vessels have so far scoured 32,818 sq. miles of the total 46,332 sq. mile area while authorities have said that the search is due to be called off in June if no wreckage is found.
O'Malley also reiterated the decision of the governments of Australia, Malaysia and the People’s Republic of China taken in April 2015 that the search area will not be expanded “in the absence of credible new information leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft.”