Authorities in the southeast African nation of Mozambique, where suspected Boeing 777 debris was found, will discuss the piece’s links to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with Malaysian authorities. The 3.3-foot piece of metal was found last weekend on a sandbank in the Mozambique Channel — the ocean strait between Mozambique and Madagascar.
Joao de Abreu, the director of Mozambique's National Civil Aviation Institute, said Friday his institute would like to hand over the debris to the expert team from Malaysia, according to Xinhua news agency. Abreu also reportedly said that after the identification results are out, the Mozambican government would decide whether to launch a search for more debris.
The piece of wreckage will be 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. Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said last week that there was a “high possibility” the debris belongs to a Boeing 777 plane, the same type as Flight MH370.
Abreu was also quoted Friday by state news agency AIM, saying that any claim that the debris belonged to the missing Flight MH370 was "premature" and "speculative,” according to All Africa. He also expressed doubts that the debris may not be from the missing Boeing 777 as the object was too clean to have been in the ocean for the past two years.
However, he reportedly said that "no aircraft which has overflown Mozambican airspace has reported losing a panel of this nature,” First Post reported, citing AIM.
Australia and Malaysia have both approached Mozambique's National Civil Aviation Institute to investigate the debris, which was found just days before the second anniversary of Flight MH370’s disappearance.
"We are open to anyone who wants to collaborate to find out what type of plane this belongs to," Abreu reportedly said.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search for the missing Flight MH370, did not respond to emails seeking to verify if experts from Malaysia will investigate the debris.
On Thursday, Daniel J.T. O'Malley, the communications officer for ATSB, told International Business Times that the debris would “be brought to the ATSB laboratories in Canberra.” He also added that details for transporting the debris were 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, it 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.
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 designated search area, while authorities have said the search is due to be called off in June if no wreckage is found.