Two pieces of debris recovered from beaches in Mozambique almost certainly belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Australian officials said today, signalling a possible breakthrough in the search for the plane that vanished mysteriously with 239 people in 2014.
Australia is leading the massive multi-nation search in the remote southern Indian Ocean, believed to be the final resting place of the Boeing 777.
“Part No. 1 was a flap track fairing segment, almost certainly from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, registered 9M-MRO,” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report said of the piece found December 27.
The second piece of debris was found February 27, about 220 kilometres from the spot where the first item was discovered.
“Part No. 2 was a horizontal stabilizer panel segment, almost certainly from the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, registered 9M-MRO,” the report said.
Its stencilling was also consistent with that used by Malaysia Airlines, the ATSB said.
MH370’s disappearance is one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries. The plane vanished from radar on March 8, 2014 while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, with 239 people, including five Indians, on board.
The ATSB said both pieces were also examined for “marine ecology and remnants of biological material” which could provide clues to their sea journey.
“Visible marine ecology was present on both parts and these items were removed and preserved,” the report said.
“At the time of writing, ongoing work was being conducted with respect to the marine ecology identification as well as testing of material samples.
“The results from these tests will be provided to the Malaysian investigation team once complete.”
The ATSB said the pieces found in Mozambique would be returned to Malaysia this week.
Despite a two-year investigation costing millions of dollars, only one piece of debris has been confirmed as coming from the aircraft a 6-foot-long wing flap that washed up on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
Investigators said they would analyse another possible piece found on a Mauritian island in March.
The debris washing up on the East African coast is consistent with computer models showing how ocean drift would carry the wreckage across the seas, according to officials.
The relatives of several passengers aboard flight MH370 have filed suits against the airline amid doubts about the official explanation for the plane’s disappearance.