The missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may have been found, with a piece of aircraft washing up in Mozambique that officials are now investigating to see if it belongs to the long-lost airplane.
American Blaine Gibson had been searching along a beach for debris when he found a piece on a sandbar. Gibson said he was on the last day of a trip and wanted to do some beachcombing, so he traveled to a sandbar where he found the small piece of debris with the words "NO STEP" written on it.
As the Associated Press reported, the location is consistent with the rough area where officials believe the plane crashed in March, 2014, and where debris would have drifted. The plane is believed to be located on the floor of the Indian Ocean far off the coast of Australia, meaning debris would and up drifting eastward more than 3,700 miles to the African coast.As the Associated Press reported, there are promising signs that the debris could actually be from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
"Photos of the debris appear to show the fixed leading edge of the right-hand tail section of a Boeing 777, said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. Flight 370 is the only known missing 777.The revelation came near the two-year anniversary of when the plane and its 239 people on board disappeared from radar. There has been a massive effort to find wreckage that so far has turned up nothing. Recently, there was a report from an independent analysis of ocean current patterns raising questions about the priority search area. The only piece of debris to wash up so far, found on the French-owned Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, suggests that the plane was not within that search zone.
"Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said Thursday the location of the debris in Mozambique matches investigators' drift modeling and would therefore confirm that search crews are looking in the right part of the Indian Ocean for the main underwater wreckage. Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai also said the location of the debris lines up with investigators' predictions."
Author and aviation expert Jeff Wise, a frequent critic of the Flight MH370 investigation, said the debris shows that it must have come elsewhere.
"Without implausibly strong wind effects debris could not have reached Reunion Island from the current search area," Wise wrote last week. "Before debris could have reached Reunion Island, other pieces should have washed up in Western Australia and on other shorelines in the Indian Ocean."
There are also some questions as to whether the debris found this week in Mozambique actually belongs to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Some have noted that it is unusually clean and free of barnacles that were seen on the debris found on Reunion Island.
Charitha Pattiaratchi, an oceanographer with the University of Western Australia, told the Associated Press that it could be explained.
"If somebody actually found it in the middle of the ocean while they were sailing and picked it up, I would say, 'Well, that should have some barnacles,'" he said. "But if it's been on a beach, it's basically been sandblasted."
While authorities are now investigating whether the debris found this week does indeed belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, others are still looking into the cause of the crash. There are indications that an official report, expected to be released shortly, could indicate that a pilot actually guided the plane to some unknown place, going against the theory that flight crew and passengers were incapacitated.
[Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images]