Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Report Says 50 New Debris Pieces Found In South Africa, But Official Search To End Empty-Handed

A new report this week by Fox News correspondent Paul Tilsley claims that as many as 50 pieces of debris possibly from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have been found by amateur searchers along coastlines in South Africa — the same region of the southwestern Indian Ocean where all of the confirmed and “highly likely” pieces of wreckage from the disappeared Boeing 777-200 have turned up.

Debris from the missing plane, which inexplicably cut off all communication with the ground and vanished on March 8, 2014, began appearing in July of 2015 when a “flaperon” from the plane’s wing was found on French-owned Reunion Island.

Starting early this year, more debris shards were found along coastlines and beaches in Mozambique, Mauritius, Tanzania, and South Africa — all in the same radius of about 2,000 miles off the coast of the southeastern African continent.

The reported new debris pieces, about 50 of them, were discovered by private individuals following directions from American lawyer turned independent Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 debris hunter Blain Alan Gibson.

Watch the Fox News report on the new debris finds, aired earlier this week, in the video below.

But according to Ben Sandilands, an aviation expert whose Plane Talking blog frequently covers developments in the Flight MH370 mystery, there has been very little visual evidence of the new debris finds.

The following Twitter posting by Mike Exner, a member of the “Independent Group” of experts who have been conducting their own multi-pronged investigations into the Malaysia Airlines disappearance for more than two years, reveals one of the new finds.

The fragment was discovered on the coastline of Mozambique by Durban, South Africa, by resident Barry McQuade, on Friday, August 19. The new debris piece in Exner’s tweet has not been officially confirmed to have originated with the Malaysia Airlines plane, which bore serial number 9M-MRO.

That aircraft is pictured at the top of this page, in a photo taken from an earlier flight of the 777-200.

Gibson, Exner, and the other members of the Independent Group operate, as their group’s name implies, independently of the official Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 investigation, which is managed by the Australian Transportation Safety Board.

Since September of 2014, the ATSB has been leading a search of an approximately 46,000-square-mile region it has dubbed “The Seventh Arc,” in the eastern Indian Ocean. The search, in a remote area of the Indian Ocean about 1,200 miles off the coast of western Australia, involved a team of boats equipped with high-tech sonar devices that have combed the ocean floor throughout the Seventh Arc.

So far, however, the official search has come up with nothing.

According to an “operational update” issued on Thursday, the ATSB now expects the entire search area to be completed by December of 2016.

“Should the aircraft not be located in the current search area, and in the absence of credible new evidence leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, the search would be suspended,” the ATSB said in the update.

The official investigators believe that the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed somewhere in the Seventh Arc region, based on “ping” data from a British satellite firm, Inmarsat. But multiple studies of ocean debris drift patterns appear to show that the most likely area where Flight MH370 would have entered the water is hundreds, possibly thousands of miles north of there.

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The ATSB investigators now say that they plan a drift pattern study of their own, in which they will dump six replicas of the wing flaperon found on Reunion Island into the ocean and then use satellites to track their drift.

They hope that analyzing how they drift across the ocean will provide new clues about where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, with its 239 passengers and crew on board, reached the tragic end of its final flight.

[Photo By Aero Icarus/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License]