More suspected plane debris washes ashore on Maldives island

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Debris believed to be part of an aircraft has washed ashore on an uninhabited island in the Maldives. The fragment, suspected to be from a wing, was found on Mendhoo island, within the Laamu Atoll. The finding comes after several pieces of suspected plane debris washed ashore on the resort island Vabbinfaru, within the Kaafu Atoll, some of which could be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370).

The newest piece of debris is white and severely damaged and dented in places. Some of the paint also appears to be peeling off. Authorities have collected the debris, to be examined later. Malaysian officials are currently investigating other debris to determine if they came from an aircraft and if so "discussions will be held to determine the next steps in terms of the process of analysis", said the Malaysian transport ministry in a statement.

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

On Tuesday, a team of Malaysian investigators arrived in Maldives to take charge of debris washed ashore on Vabbinfaru on May 31, which had previously been disposed of as trash, and transport it back to Malaysia for further analysis. Malaysia said they believe the debris could be from MH370, but no official confirmation has been made.

"We (Malaysia) have an understanding with the authorities there [the 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 as quoted by Bernama, a Malaysian government news agency. "They have to be further analysed and will be brought back to Malaysia for verification", he added.

Since the Vabbinfaru incident, debris has washed ashore on at least three other Maldives locations, the Baa Atoll and the islands of Fehendhoo and Fulhahdhoo, but much of it isn't believed to be from an aircraft. Abdulla Rasheed, a captain of a cargo boat which recently capsized in the waters off the Maldives, stated, "From the pictures of the debris found on most of the islands, I can almost certainly say that they are from the cargo we were carrying." Despite this possibility, any debris located is being gathered up until Malaysian authorities can examine it.

"We are collecting any unidentified debris and storing them in a warehouse so that the Malaysians can carry out tests and determine if it is from their plane or not," said the office of the Maldives President in a statement reported by Haveeru Daily before the Malaysian investigators arrived.

MH370, while flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China, vanished 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 Maldives 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.

"Based on the monitoring up to date, 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 reports.