Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Mystery Gets New Break As More Possible Debris Found — But Where Is Plane?

The mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may be moving at least slightly closer to a solution, after the fourth possible piece of debris from the missing plane found in 2016 turned up on a coastline in South Africa, according to an announcement by the Malaysian government Tuesday.

The Boeing 777-200 was on a seemingly routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 of 2014 when air traffic controllers suddenly lost all communication with MH370. Only when data emerged several days later from a British satellite firm that detected "ping" transmissions from the Malaysia Airlines plane to an orbiting satellite did accident investigators realize that the plane had flown for seven hours, thousand of miles off course to the west — and apparently ended up in a remote region of the Indian Ocean.

But a six-month, multimillion dollar search of the presumed crash area, about 1,200 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia, has turned up nothing.

In July of last year, however, the first piece of debris from the plane, a piece of wing known as a "flaperon," was discovered on French-owned Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. The flaperon was investigated by French authorities who confirmed that it was indeed part of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

And then, in a flurry early in 2016, four more pieces of debris have been discovered. Two of them were picked up by tourists on beaches in Mozambique, a coastal nation in southeast Africa, about 1,300 miles west of Reunion Island.

The following video news report contains more details on the Mozambique debris.

Both of those pieces were shipped via Malaysia to investigators in Australia, who last week announced that both were "almost certainly" wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines 777 that disappeared more than two years ago.

"The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370," said Australia Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester, in a written statement. "That such debris has been found on the east coast of Africa is consistent with drift modeling performed by CSIRO and further affirms our search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean."
But questions have been raised about the Mozambique debris shards, with some experts noting that both appeared almost completely free of marine life growth of the type that would have attached itself to an object floating in the ocean for almost two years. The Australian investigators made no mention of the apparent discrepancy in barnacle growth.The flaperon discovered on Reunion Island six months earlier bore a thick coat of barnacles.

The other two discoveries, including the find announced on Tuesday, March 29, turned up on the coast of South Africa, which borders on Mozambique to the south. Neither piece has yet been confirmed to be part of Flight MH370.

The first South Africa find, made in the town of Mossel Bay, is said by Australian investigators to be "the cowling from an engine," but the investigators do not know if the cowling came from the Malaysia Airlines plane.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 new debris Boeing 777 9M-MRO
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared in 2014, seen here taking off from Zurich, Switzerland, in 2003 [Photo By Aero Icarus / Wikimedia Commons)The piece found this week was not described by Malaysian authorities who made the announcement, saying that they were not yet sure that the object was part of a Boeing 777.

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If indeed the debris is determined to come from a Boeing 777-200, the probability that it is, in fact, Flight MH370 debris becomes extremely high, because the Malaysia Airlines plane, with the identification 9M-MRO, is the only Boeing 777-200 known to be missing anywhere in the world.

But even though four stray pieces of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, or possible pieces of the plane, have been found this year, searchers are still no closer to finding the actual crash site of the missing plane itself, confirming once and for all the fate of the flight's 239 passengers and crew — or finding any evidence that would help determine what caused the plane to mysteriously fly off course and vanish in the first place.

[Featured Photo by Kevin Frayer / Getty Images]