Malaysia to investigate suspected plane debris washed ashore on several Maldives islands

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Monday, August 10, 2015

After published reports stated suspected plane debris washed up on several Maldives islands, Malaysia has stated it will send a team of investigators to examine it. Investigators are to try to determine if the debris came from a plane before taking any further action.

"I urge all parties to allow for the verification process to take its due course. Once it is determined to be aircraft debris, discussions will be held to determine next steps in terms of the process of analysis. Undue speculation will only stress the families and loved ones, anxiously awaiting news on this matter," said Liow Tiong Lai, Malaysia's Transport Minister in a statement.

An investigation into the debris was launched after an photos of the debris were uploaded to the social networking website Facebook on, reportedly, May 31, by an employee of a beach resort. 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 in Kaafu Atoll. In the past few days, several other pieces of debris were recovered on at least three other islands. Authorities are trying to determine if it may be part of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370).

Last week, a piece of a wing known as a flaperon was found washed ashore on Réunion Island. The Malaysian government stated it's from MH370, but according to Chinese officials, the piece has yet to be confirmed to be from MH370 because managers were on leave from the Spanish manufacturer of the part.

However, before most of the debris could be examined, it had already been taken away for disposal. The photographs showed a large white object, possibly two, stained with algae and appear to be made of a fiberglass and honeycomb material. The objects appear to be several feet in length and width and in one photo where the paint is severely peeled, red letters "IC" can be seen. Those pieces, along with others, were taken away and disposed of as trash. When authorities discovered the photographs, they returned to the site, but only found a small, five to seven inch (about 13–18 cm) piece of debris they say doesn't appear to be part of a plane.

Some of the debris may not be from a plane. 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 and stored in a warehouse 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.

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 he 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 report.


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