Malaysia: 'Most' debris found on Maldives islands not 'plane material'

Friday, August 14, 2015

According to the Malaysian transport ministry today, investigators sent to Maldives to examine suspected plane debris say "most" of the debris recovered from several Maldives islands are unrelated to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) and aren't part of an aircraft.

"My team has witnessed the debris and most of them are negative. They are not related to MH370 and not even plane material," said Seri Liow, Malaysia's transport minister during a press conference today. He also stated investigators were still examining debris and if any of it was suspected of being from MH370, it would be taken for further analysis in Malaysia.

File photo of suspected plane debris washed ashore Kaafu Atoll on May 31.
Image: Mohamed Wafir (via Facebook).

On Tuesday, the team of Malaysian investigators arrived in Maldives to take charge of the debris, which washed ashore on Vabbinfaru on May 31 and had been disposed of as trash. On Wednesday, the Malaysian government said they believed the debris could have been from MH370. "We [Malaysia] have an understanding with the authorities there [Maldives] [...] we think the parts which were found about a month ago were parts of the aircraft," said Ab Aziz Kaprawi, the deputy transport minister for Malaysia.

The investigation in the Maldives began as a result of photos of suspected plane debris being uploaded to the social networking website Facebook. Some of the debris is reported to have washed ashore as early as May 31 and was found on a beach owned by the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru resort, located on Kaafu Atoll. In recent days, several other pieces of debris were recovered on at least three other islands, most of which was ruled out as belonging to a plane. In late July, a piece of a wing, a flaperon, reported to be from MH370 washed up on the French island of Réunion in the southwest Indian Ocean.

MH370, while flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China, vanished without a trace on March 8, 2014. All 239 passengers and crew are believed to be dead. On the day the plane went missing, residents on the small Maldive island of Kudahuvadhoo claimed to have seen a very "low flying jumbo jet" crash into the Indian Ocean. Some also noted the colors appeared to resemble that of a Malaysia Airlines plane. "I’ve never seen a jet flying so low over our island before. We've seen seaplanes, but I'm sure that this was not one of those. I could even make out the doors on the plane clearly", one resident was quoted as saying to the newspaper Haveeru Daily. Some claim the plane appeared to be headed in the direction of Diego Garcia, but Malaysian authorities have discounted those claims.

"No indication of Flight MH370 has been observed on any military radars in the country [Maldives]. Furthermore, the data of radars at Maldives airports have also been analysed and shows no indication of the said flight," said Malaysia's transport ministry at the time of the report.