Residents of France's Reunion Island flooded investigators with debris this weekend in hopes that it might be connected to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. As the analysis of a Boeing 777 wing found there last week continued Monday, the islanders turned over old shoes, scrap metal, tea kettles, a wallet and a Frisbee, according to various media reports. Authorities encouraged locals' efforts to help in the search but reminded them to be somewhat skeptical.
Ever since the wing fragment was uncovered there Wednesday, "people are more vigilant," said Jean-Yves Sambimanan, the spokesman for the town of Saint-André. The discovery led professional and amateur searchers alike to scour the Indian Ocean island for items that could be linked to MH370 and its 239 passengers and crew, which disappeared without a trace on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
"There is a sort of treasure hunt mentality that is taking hold, and people are calling us for everything,” an unnamed source close to the investigation told Agence France-Presse.
One example of this came Sunday, when a man gave authorities what he thought was a door but turned out to be part of a generic ladder, International Business Times previously reported. Authorities must log the possible evidence but were growing weary. "They are going to think any metallic object they find on the beach is from Flight MH370, but there are objects all along the coast," Sambimanan said. "The ocean continually throws them up.”
While police handled the influx of debris and investigators tested it, scientists were also looking for signs linking the found wing to MH370. Australian ecologists told Reuters that examining the age and size of the barnacles on its surface could give way to an answer about whether the wing belonged to MH370.
"Barnacle shells ... can tell us valuable information about the water conditions under which they were formed," said Ryan Pearson, a graduate student at Australia's Griffith University.