An aircraft wing that washed up on a beach at Reunion Island in the southwestern Indian Ocean is believed to be from the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared over Southeast Asia more than a year ago.
Photos from the French island, located east of Madagascar, indicate the nine-foot-long debris could be part of a wing flap of the Boeing 777, USA Today reports.. The wing part is now being flown to Toulouse, France where investigators will look for clues such as serial numbers to confirm that the flight crashed into the Indian Ocean and that searchers are looking in the right area.
However, even if investigators are able to confirm the plate part – the first evidence that the plane crashed – the discovery might still not lead to the location of MH370’s resting place. Debris from the plane crash could have drifted thousands of kilometres in the time since the plane crashed.
Malaysia is leading the investigation on the island, with the assistance of Boeing, the United States, France, and Australia. According to the New Zealand Herald, the Malaysian government sent a team of experts to the island on Thursday, but upon arrival on Thursday they were immediately forced to evacuate due to an imminent volcanic eruption near the site of where the debris was found. On Friday, the volcano erupted as predicted.
Over the coming weeks, more debris could wash up on the shore if drift patterns prevail.
MH370 disappeared from radar over the South China Sea during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. It was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members.
There has been speculation that at least one of the pilots may have intentionally avoided radar detection and diverted the aircraft to another direction. Pilot suicide has been hypothesized.
The aircraft’s disappearance prompted a joint international search within an area of 120,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean’s waters east of Perth, Australia. To date, over $100 million has been spent by the Australian government alone to find the location of the plane.