REUNION ISLAND, 30 July 2014. Aircraft debris washed ashore at Reunion Island, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, prompting a search for what is likely to be wreckage from lost Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Crews cleaning the French island’s coast happened upon the barnacle-covered airplane fragment, measuring 8 feet long and 6.5 feet wide. Boeing officials, having viewed photographs of the debris, have identified it as a component of the wing – either a flaperon or aileron – from a Boeing 777 commercial airliner. The only 777 unaccounted for, officials say, is that of Malaysia Airlines.
"The location [of the debris] is consistent with the drift analysis provided to the Malaysian investigation team, which showed a route from the southern Indian Ocean to Africa," Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak explains.
Officials at the BEA (Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile), the French authority responsible for safety investigations into accidents, are investigating the wreckage. Multiple governments and organizations are taking part in the search, which includes the use of military and civilian helicopters, boats and divers, and crews combing the beach. Malaysian officials are responsible for and managing the investigation, with assistance from the BEA, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, and Boeing.
"This is obviously a very significant development," Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says. “It's the first real evidence that there is a possibility that a part of the aircraft may have been found. It's too early to make that judgment, but clearly we are treating this as a major lead. It is credible that wreckage from the search area could've reached Reunion Island."
Malaysian Minister of Transportation Liow Tiong Lai has confirmed that the Malaysian government dispatched a team to Reunion Island to investigate.