Debris discovered on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean will be transported to France to determine whether it is truly from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the airliner that went missing in March 2014. Initial reports indicated a high probability that the debris found, which appeared to be part of a wing, was consistent with the plane model, but some experts are casting doubts and urging caution before jumping to conclusions.
"I'm not so sure that those parts belong to the MH370 flight," wrote David Cenciotti, editor at TheAviationist.com, the Telegraph reported. "The Malaysia Airlines B777 is not the only plane that went missing, and there are some mysteriously disappeared in Africa. It could even be one of those aircraft. I’m not saying that one is not the MH370, just that it’s weird that debris appeared over there."
Christophe Naudin, an aviation expert who has appeared regularly on French television discussing the crash, said the debris appeared to come from a light aircraft, not a Boeing 777. "The first photographs which I have been able to analyze - and which are not of very good quality - seem to me like the left wing of a light aircraft," he said. "I am unable to say exactly which model of plane it came from, but I would not be surprised if it did come from a light twin-engine plane."
A Malaysian official has said the debris appeared to be from a Boeing 777, meaning that it could be from flight MH370. Relatives of the victims have demanded prompt confirmation as to whether the debris found belonged to the plane that carried their loved ones.
"We don't want to hear an official giving 99 percent guarantee. We want 100 percent confirmation!" the next-of-kin said, in a statement posted on social media Thursday afternoon. "No matter where the wreckage is, what we are most concerned is the whereabouts of our loved ones.”
— The Independent (@Independent) July 30, 2015
The finding are considered a major lead in an investigation for the missing plane that now has stretched beyond a year. The search has mostly focused on part of the southern Indian Ocean, nearly 2,300 miles away from the island where the debris was found Wednesday.
French authorities have said no hypothesis could be ruled out and that the origins of the debris could not yet be verified. After a Malaysian minister expressed certainty the debris was from Flight 370, French authorities urged caution in jumping to early conclusions.
"No hypothesis can be ruled out, including that it would come from a Boeing 777," the Reunion prefecture and the French Justice Ministry said in a joint statement, the Telegraph reported.
The Malaysian airliner went missing in March 8, 2014, en route to Beijing, China, and prompted a massive, multi-national search which failed to yield answers. In the initial days following the search for the plane, there were several reports of debris sightings, but none of those turned out to be reliable. Families were critical of Malaysia airlines following the plane's disappearance, and said officials failed to adequately update them on the search for the missing airline.