MH370 find validates search: Abbott
Experts say a wing part from flight MH370 found off the coast of Reunion Island is consistent with the theory the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean area currently being searched by Australian authorities.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed overnight a wing part found on the French island of Reunion was from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, but he gave no indication that analysis of the debris yielded any clues to the cause of the disappearance.
French prosecutors used more cautious language, saying only there was a “very high probability” the wreckage came from MH370.
The Australian government’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre says the finding of the wing part, called a flaperon, is consistent with the search area in the southern Indian Ocean.
“Thorough and methodical search efforts will continue in the defined search area,” the JACC said in a statement.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the find vindicates the Australian-led search for the missing plane that vanished along with its 239 passengers – including six Australians – 17 months ago.
“The fact that this wreckage does very much look like it’s from MH370 does seem … very consistent with the search pattern we’ve been using,” Mr Abbott said.
A French-led investigation team is continuing to finalise its analysis of the wreckage, while an expert from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is in France to aid the international investigation team.
University of Southampton oceanographer Simon Boxall said the Reunion find made sense.
He said the flaperon would have taken 15 to 18 months to reach Madagascar after it was pushed north by ocean currents.
“La Reunion is an island not far off Madagascar, so it’s about spot on,” he said.
Dr Boxall said it was good fortune that it washed up on a populated beach.
The part could have washed up in a remote part of Madagascar or east Africa, or it could have continued in a gyre and made its way back towards Australia over three or four years.
“So it could have found itself back to where it started,” he said.
Malaysia Airlines said in a statement it both expected and hoped more objects would be found.
“This is indeed a major breakthrough for us in resolving the disappearance of MH370,” the airline said in a statement, offering deep sympathies to the family members of passengers.
Wednesday marked 515 days since the plane vanished.
Families still seek closure
The family of Perth man, Paul Weeks, who was on board MH370, said they are upset at the way Malaysian authorities communicated the news.
Paul Weeks’ sister, Sarah, who lives in Christchurch, found out the latest development when a reporter rang her for comment.
She said she was disappointed that “yet again” Malaysian authorities failed to inform families before announcing it to media outlets in a news conference.
“[It’s] pretty disgusting really,” she told Fairfax Media.
The father of an Australian on board MH370 says the family is back to square one with the confirmed discovery of a part from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
“We were getting over things … and then this happens and (we are) back to square one,” George Burrows, the father of Rodney Burrows, told ABC radio on Thursday.
“It’s not the end,” said Jacquita Gonzales, who lost her husband Patrick Gomes, a flight attendant.
“Although they found something, you know, it’s not the end. They still need to find the whole plane and our spouses as well. We still want them back,” she said.
The airline described the discovery as “a major breakthrough for us in resolving the disappearance of MH370.
“We expect and hope that there would be more objects to be found which would be able to help resolve this mystery,” it said in a statement issued as soon as Najib had spoken.