Australian authorities have confirmed that debris found in Mauritius belonged to MH370. However, they said, the discovery sheds no new light on the rest of the missing passenger jet's specific location.
On Friday, Australian investigators confirmed that an item of debris recovered in Mauritius in May belonged to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The Boeing 777 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, carrying 239 passengers and crew.
The part "was a trailing edge section of Boeing 777 left, outboard flap, originating from the Malaysia Airlines aircraft registered 9M-MRO", the Australian Transport Safety Bureau announced in a report released on Friday. "A part number was identified on a section of the debris," the ATSB reported, adding that another "unique work order number" assigned by the flap manufacturer corresponded to MH370.
Investigators have found no trace of the aircraft off Australia's coast in the southern Indian Ocean, where they believe that it crashed. The failure to locate any debris in the search zone has fueled speculation that the plane may have crashed outside the area. Investigators have searched over 110,000 square kilometers (42,500 square miles) of that area so far, Australian officials said earlier this week, adding that, with roughly 10,000 square kilometers left to go, they intend to complete the hunt in December.
'Affirm the focus'
The debris found in Mauritius has become the third confirmed fragment from MH370. French authorities confirmed the discovery of the first piece, a 2-meter (6.6-foot) wing part known as a flaperon that washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion in July 2015. In mid-September, Malaysian officials said debris found off of Tanzania in June had come from the airplane.
Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said investigators "remain hopeful" that they will recover all of MH370. "The finding of this debris ... continues to affirm the focus of search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean," Chester said in a statement released on Friday. "It does not, however, provide information that can be used to determine a specific location of the aircraft."
Friday's report came two weeks after the ATSB announced that officials had yet to link debris recovered from Madagascar by US amateur investigator Blaine Gibson to MH370 - or to a Boeing 777 at all. Officials also said that debris showed no signs of exposure to fire, despite earlier speculation.
mkg/kl (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)