A one-metre-long piece of debris found off the eastern African coast between Mozambique and Madagascar may be from the tail section of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane that disappeared in March 2014.
Malaysian, US and Australian investigators have looked at photos of the possible debris and there is conjecture that the piece could be a horizontal stabilizer from a Boeing 777, the same type of plane as Flight MH370 which was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when authorities lost contact with it.
The debris was found on a sandbank in the Mozambique Channel by an American man who has been tracking the investigation into the missing flight. Mozambican authorities have no recorded information on the sighting of such an object off the coast of Inhambane province, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Inacio Dina.
Engineers who have looked at the debris have said there is a good chance it belonged to MH370. Australian authorities are arranging an investigation of the piece, which could have drifted to the Mozambique sand bar. The debris is to be sent to Australia for testing, with help from Malaysian authorities and representatives of the plane’s manufacturer Boeing.
"It is too early to speculate on the origin of the debris at this stage," Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester told parliament. However, the piece was found in "a location consistent with drift modelling commissioned by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau", he said.
Voice370, a group representing families of those on board the missing plane, said the new discovery meant the search must focus on the coastlines of Mozambique and Madagascar.
"Debris fields, though subject to some degree of dispersal by the elements, generally tend to make landfall in close proximity," the group said in a statement.
This latest finding report comes after a piece of the plane's wing was recovered on the shore of Reunion island in the Indian Ocean on the other side of Madagascar, in July 2015.
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Flight MH370 debris discovery infographic