MH370 Investigators Dash Hopes Over New Debris
A fevered hunt for more wreckage from missing flight MH370 on La Reunion island has turned up no new clues as authorities said metallic debris found by locals did not come from an aeroplane.
However Malaysia urged authorities in the Indian Ocean region to be on the lookout for debris washing up on their shores as hope flared a piece of a Boeing 777 wing could help solve one of aviation's greatest mysteries.
Locals on La Reunion island have been combing the shores since the wing part was found last Wednesday, handing over bits of what they believe to be wreckage to police.
On Sunday morning several pieces of debris sparked excitement, one of which was believed by locals to be from a plane door.
However investigators quickly shot down hopes.
Malaysian Director General of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman who is in France for the analysis of the wing part, told AFP one item "was actually from a domestic ladder. It is not a door."
And a source close to the investigation in Paris said "no object or debris likely to come from a plane" had been placed into evidence on Sunday.
On the island police had also collected on Sunday a mangled piece of metal inscribed with two Chinese characters and attached to what appears to be a leather-covered handle.
Chinese internet users suggested it may be a kettle.
"People are more vigilant. They are going to think any metallic object they find on the beach is from flight MH370, but there are objects all along the coast, the ocean continually throws them up," said Jean-Yves Sambimanan, spokesman for the town of Saint-Andre where the wing debris was found.
He said islanders were also dumbfounded that after cursory helicopter flights the day after the wing part was found, no official search of the coastline is underway.
The rush to find more debris is a sign of the desperation for answers 16 months after MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
"There is a sort of 'treasure hunt' mentality that is taking hold and people are calling us for everything," said a local source close to the investigation.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said civil aviation authorities were reaching out to their counterparts in other Indian Ocean territories to be on the lookout for further debris.
"This is to allow the experts to conduct more substantive analysis should there be more debris coming onto land, providing us more clues to the missing aircraft."
He also confirmed in a statement that the wing part found on Wednesday on the French island had been "officially identified" as being from a Boeing 777 - making it virtually certain that it was from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Flight MH370 is the only Boeing 777 to ever be lost at sea.
The flight's mysterious disappearance, which saw it vanish off radars as a key transponder appeared to have been shut off, has baffled aviation experts and grieving families and given rise to a myriad conspiracy theories.
Speculation on the cause of the plane's disappearance has focused primarily on a possible mechanical or structural failure, a hijacking or terror plot, or rogue pilot action.
Australian search authorities leading the hunt for the aircraft some 4000 kilometres from La Reunion are confident the main debris field is in the current search area.