Has missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 been discovered? Wreckage found on French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion could be the plane that vanished without trace last March, experts say
A piece of wreckage washed up on a beach in the Indian Ocean could be part of the doomed Malaysian Airlines jet MH370 which vanished in 2014, it has emerged.
The two-metre-long piece of wreckage, which seemed to be part of a wing, was found by people cleaning up a beach in La Reunion, east of Madagascar.
One witness said: 'It was covered in shells, so one would say it had been in the water a long time.'
Officials are examining debris found washed up on Reunion island east of Madagascar to determine if it is related to the missing MH370
The debris appears to be part of a wing and was taken onto the island of La Reunion, where it will be thoroughly inspected
Air crash investigators will closely examine the piece of wreckage to see if the serial numbers match the missing Boeing 777
The two-metre-long section of wreckage was discovered on the island of La Reunion, east of Madagascar, more than 3,800 miles away from where the aircraft was last seen, north of Kuala Lumpur and some 3,000 miles from the search area west of Australia
French air transport officials have already opened a probe to investigate where the wreckage could have come from.
The two-metre-long section was found more than 3,800 miles away from where the missing Boeing 777 was last seen.
Xavier Tytelman, an expert in aviation security, said it could not be ruled out that the wreckage belonged to MH370, which vanished without trace in March last year.
No part of the wreckage has ever been found in one of aviation's great mysteries and Malaysian authorities in January declared that all on board were presumed dead.
The plane disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Tytelman noted that local media photos showed 'incredible similarities between a #B777 flaperon and the debris found,' refering to a Boeing 777 - the type of plane that disappeared.
He also noted a reference on the wreckage: BB670.
He added: 'This code is not a plane's registration number, nor serial number. However... it's clear that this reference would allow a quick identification. In a few days, we will have a definitive answer.'
The section of wreckage, believed to be from an aircraft, was found in La Reunion, pictured, with is a French overseas department
The object appears very similar to part of the flap mechanism from a large passenger jet such as the missing MH370 Boeing 777
Airline expert Xavier Tytelman said the wreckage looked like it came from a Boeing 777
Experts believe the wreckage looks similar to a section of flap from a Boeing 777, pictured, which was the model which vanished in 2014
Development? Officials are examining debris found floating near Reunion island east of Madagascar to determine if it is related to Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which vanished in 2014 (stock photo)
Eric Chesneau, a French air transport police officer urged caution following today's discovery.
He said: 'People are getting ahead of themselves over this. It is more than likely plane debris, (but) we don't know what exact part it may be.'
No trace has been found of the Boeing 777, which disappeared in March last year carrying 239 passengers and crew from Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. Most of the passengers were Chinese.
Search efforts led by Australia have focused on a broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean.
Neither the French civil aviation authority DGAC nor the BEA, the agency responsible for investigating aviation accidents, were immediately available for comment.
Boeing said in a statement it remained 'committed to supporting the MH370 investigation and the search for the airplane'.
The airline manufacturer said: 'We continue to share our technical expertise and analysis. Our goal, along with the entire global aviation industry, continues to be not only to find the airplane, but also to determine what happened - and why.'
The debris appears to be part of a wing and was taken onto the island, a French department, this morning, according to Adjutant Christian Retournat.
'It is way too soon to say whether or not it is MH370. We just found the debris this morning in the coast of Saint Andre,' Retournat told CNN Wednesday.
The flat, white hunk of metal is almost certainly a part of an airplane wing. More specifically, Metro reports it is that of a Boeing 777, the same model plane as MH370, which went down after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 8, 2014 en route to Beijing with 239 aboard.
SO WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO MH370... SOME OF THE LEADING THEORIES INTO THE MYSTERY EXAMINED
DID THE PILOT HIJACK HIS OWN PLANE?
Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah planned mass murder because of personal problems, locking his co-pilot out of the cockpit, closing down all communications, depressurising the main cabin and then disabling the aircraft so that it continued flying on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel.
That was the popular theory in the weeks after the plane's disappearance.
His personal problems, rumours in Kuala Lumpur said, included a split with his wife Fizah Khan, and his fury that a relative, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, had been given a five-year jail sentence for sodomy shortly before he boarded the plane for the flight to Beijing.
But the pilot's wife angrily denied any personal problems and other family members and his friends said he was a devoted family man and loved his job.
This theory is also the conclusion of the first independent study into the disaster by the New Zealand-based air accident investigator, Ewan Wilson.
Wilson, the founder of Kiwi Airlines and a commercial pilot himself, arrived at the shocking conclusion after considering 'every conceivable alternative scenario'.
However, he has not been able to provide any conclusive evidence to support his theory.
The claims are made in the book 'Goodnight Malaysian 370', which Wilson co-wrote with the New Zealand broadsheet journalist, Geoff Taylor.
It's also been rumoured that Zaharie used a flight simulator at his home to plot a path to a remote island.
However, officials in Kuala Lumpur declared that Malysian police and the FBI's technical experts had found nothing to suggest he was planning to hijack the flight after closely examining his flight simulator.
IF NOT THE PILOT, WAS THE CO-PILOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MYSTERY?
Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, again for personal problems, was suspected by rumour-spreaders to have overpowered the pilot and disabled the aircraft, flying it to its doom with crew and passengers unable to get through the locked cockpit door.
Theorists have put forward the suggestion that he was having relationship problems and this was his dramatic way of committing suicide.
But he was engaged to be married to Captain Nadira Ramli, 26, a fellow pilot from another airline, and loved his job. There are no known reasons for him to have taken any fatal action.
Others have suggested that because he was known to have occasionally invited young women into the cockpit during a flight, he had done so this time and something had gone wrong.
Young Jonti Roos said in March that she spent an entire flight in 2011 in the cockpit being entertained by Hamid, who was smoking.
Interest in the co-pilot was renewed when it was revealed he was the last person to communicate from the cockpit after the communication system was cut off.
DID THE RUSSIANS STEAL MH370 AND FLY THE JET TO KAZAKHSTAN
An expert has claimed the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was hijacked on the orders of Vladimir Putin and secretly landed in Kazakhstan.
Jeff Wise, a U.S. science writer who spearheaded CNN's coverage of the Boeing 777-200E, has based his outlandish theory on pings that the plane gave off for seven hours after it went missing, that were recorded by British telecommunications company Inmarsat.
Wise believes that hijackers 'spoofed' the plane's navigation data to make it seem like it went in another direction, but flew it to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is leased from Kazakhstan by Russia.
However, Wise admits in New York Magazine that he does not know why Vladimir Putin would want to steal a plane full of people and that his idea is somewhat 'crazy'.
Wise also noted there were three Russian men onboard the flight, two of them Ukrainian passport holders.
Aviation disaster experts analysed satellite data and discovered - like the data recorded by Inmarsat - that the plane flew on for hours after losing contact.
Careful examination of the evidence has revealed that MH370 made three turns after the last radio call, first a turn to the left, then two more, taking the plane west, then south towards Antarctica.
MH370 WAS USED BY TERRORISTS FOR A SUICIDE ATTACK ON THE CHINESE NAVY
This extraordinary claim came from 41-year-old British yachtsman Katherine Tee, from Liverpool, whose initial account of seeing what she thought was a burning plane in the night sky made headlines around the world.
On arrival in Thailand's Phuket after sailing across the Indian Ocean from Cochin, southern India with her husband, she said: 'I could see the outline of the plane - it looked longer than planes usually do.There was what appeared to be black smoke streaming from behind.'
Ms Tee's general description of the time and place was vague and she lost all credibility when she later stated on her blog that she believed MH370 was a kamikaze plane that was aimed at a flotilla of Chinese ships and it was shot down before it could smash into the vessels.
Without solid proof of the satellite data, she wrote on her blog, Saucy Sailoress, the plane she saw was flying at low altitude towards the military convoy she and her husband had seen on recent nights. She added that internet research showed a Chinese flotilla was in the area at the time.
THE JET LANDED ON THE WATER AND WAS SEEN FLOATING ON THE ANDAMAN SEA
On a flight from Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur that crossed over the Andaman Sea on March 8, Malaysian woman Raja Dalelah, 53, saw what she believed was a plane sitting on the water's surface.
She didn't know about the search that had been started for MH370. She alerted a stewardess who told her to go back to sleep.
'I was shocked to see what looked like the tail and wing of an aircraft on the water,' she said.
It was only when she told her friends on landing in Kuala Lumpur what she had seen that she learned of the missing jet. She had seen the object at about 2.30pm Malaysian time.
She said she had been able to identify several ships and islands before noticing the silver object that she said was a plane.
But her story was laughed off by pilots who said it would have been impossible to have seen part of an aircraft in the water from 35,000ft or seven miles.
Ms Raja filed an official report with police the same day and has kept to her story.
'I know what I saw,' she said.
THE AIRCRAFT SUFFERED A CATASTROPHIC SYSTEMS FAILURE AND CRASH-LANDED ON THE OCEAN
A catastrophic event such as a fire disabling much of the equipment resulted in the pilots turning the plane back towards the Malaysian peninsula in the hope of landing at the nearest airport.
Satellite data, believable or not, suggests the aircraft did make a turn and theorists say there would be no reason for the pilots to change course unless confronted with an emergency.
A fire in a similar Boeing 777 jet parked at Cairo airport in 2011 was found to have been caused by a problem with the first officer's oxygen mask supply tubing.
Stewarts Law, which has litigated in a series of recent air disasters, believes the plane crashed after a fire - similar to the blaze on the Cairo airport runway - broke out in the cockpit.
After an investigation into the Cairo blaze, Egypt's Aircraft Accident Investigation Central Directorate (EAAICD) released their final report which revealed that the fire originated near the first officer's oxygen mask supply tubing.
The cause of the fire could not be conclusively determined, but investigators pinpointed a problem with the cockpit hose used to provide oxygen for the crew in the event of decompression.
Following the 2011 fire, US aircraft owners were instructed to replace the system - it was estimated to cost $2,596 (£1,573) per aircraft. It was not known whether Malaysia Airlines had carried out the change.
If either pilot wanted to crash the plane, why turn it around? So the turn-around suggests they were trying to land as soon as possible because of an emergency.
THE US SHOT DOWN THE AIRCRAFT FEARING A TERROR ATTACK ON DIEGO GARCIA
The Boeing 777 was shot down by the Americans who feared the aircraft had been hijacked and was about to be used to attack the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian Ocean. So conspiracy theorists claim.
And former French airline director Marc Dugain said he had been warned by British intelligence that he was taking risks by investigating this angle.
There is no way of checking whether Dugain received such a warning or why he believes the Americans shot down the plane.
But adding to the theory that the aircraft was flown to Diego Garcia, either by the pilot Zaharie or a hijacker, was the claim that on the pilot's home flight simulator was a 'practice' flight to the island.
Professor Glees said: 'The Americans would have no interest in doing anything of the kind and not telling the world.
'In theory, they might wish to shoot down a plane they thought was attacking them but they wouldn't just fire missiles, they'd investigate it first with fighters and would quickly realise that even if it had to be shot down, the world would need to know.'
Mr Rosenschein said: 'The U.S. would not have been able to hide this fact and in any event, if it were true, they would have admitted their action as it would have prevented a successful terrorist action on this occasion and acted as a deterrent for future terrorist attacks.'
MH17 victims are remembered around the world on the disaster's first anniversary... as families file $900million lawsuit claiming THIS is the man behind the missile strike
MOSCOW, July 29 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he opposed the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute those who shot down a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, hours before a U.N. vote on such a proposal.
Putin's comment was the latest to indicate Russia may block moves at the United Nations, co-sponsored by the Netherlands, to set up a U.N.-backed tribunal into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014.
Kiev and many Western countries accuse pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine of shooting down the plane with a Russian-made missile, charges Moscow denies.
All 298 people on board, the majority of them Dutch, were killed and the Netherlands is leading an international investigation into the incident.
"The Russian president confirmed the unchanging position that it is inexpedient to create such a judicial body," the Kremlin said in a statement following a phone call between Putin and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The Dutch, along with Malaysia, Australia and most Western countries, are pushing for the tribunal, which they say would have the authority to investigate impartially and demand the extradition of suspects, whichever country might be harbouring them.
Russia has said setting up a tribunal before investigations are complete would risk further politicising the incident. Putin also regretted that Russia's own draft resolution, which demands justice for the victims but does not establish a tribunal, did not win the U.N. Security Council's backing.
The Netherlands said in a statement that it believed a tribunal would be the best way of achieving impartial justice.
"In order to avoid the risk of politicising justice, it is best to set up the tribunal before deciding what the circumstances of the crash were," the Dutch government said.
The downing of the plane triggered a new round of Western economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, and deepened the worst stand-off between Moscow and the West since the Cold War ended.
The 298 people killed on board Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 have been remembered around the world on the one year anniversary of the airliner being shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine.
Residents in the Ukrainian village of Hrabove where the doomed airliner came down joined a long procession to the crash site earlier this morning.
Meanwhile Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott remembered the 'savagery' of the disaster as he unveiled a plaque in Canberra that's set in soil from where the wreckage fell. Families of the 38 Australian on board the aircraft gathered at the service at the capital's Parliament House.
And in the city of Nieuwegein in the Netherlands, grieving relatives of Dutch victims are also holding an event to remember those who lost their lives.
But amid the global outpouring of grief there was renewed concern that nobody will ever be brought to justice over the disaster, despite the families of those killed launching a $900 million lawsuit against Igor Girkin - the man many accuse of ordering the missile to be fired - earlier this week.
Rebel leader: Igor Girkin - also known as Igor Strelkov - is the pro-Russian separatists many believe ordered the shooting down of the aircraft. Families of the MH17 victims are now trying to sue him for $900 million
Militant: The families of those killed have launched a $900 million lawsuit against Igor Girkin (centre) - the separatist rebel leader many have accused of ordering the missile to be fired - earlier this week
Russian separatist leader Igor Girkin (pictured left and right) is being sued for $900million by the families of victims who died on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Remembering the victims: Residents in the Ukrainian village of Hrabove where the doomed airliner came down joined a long religious-themed procession to the crash site earlier this morning
Commemoration: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott remembered the 'savagery' of the MH17 disaster as he unveiled a plaque in Canberra that's set in soil from where the wreckage fell earlier this morni
Today's memorial ceremonies come amid a sharp dispute over who was responsible for downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014.
Ukrainian and Western authorities say the plane was downed by a suspected BUK surface to air missile fired either by rebels or Russian troops who allegedly back them.
The rebels and Moscow deny this and say it was hit by a Ukrainian warplane or a Ukrainian-fired missile.
Russia also claims to have played no role in the 15-month conflict raging in eastern Ukraine.
The matter could come to a head over civil claims, however, after the families of 18 victims - including six British started proceeding to sue a Russian separatist leader for €900 million amid claims he ordered the firing of the missile that caused the disaster.
Igor Girkin was also formally accused of working alongside the Kremlin in the writ filed in Chicago on Wednesday.
The court papers claimed: 'Flight 17 flew over the airspace of the area in which the aforesaid rebel army was waging its war activities and the rebel army under the command responsibility of defendant Girkin shot down the subject Boeing 777-200 aircraft,' according to the Telegraph.
It added: 'Defendant Girkin acted with the actual or apparent authority of individuals in the Government of Russia.'
The Donetsk People's Republic, of which Girkin is leader, has vehemently denied responsibility.
Tribute: Flowers were laid in the departure hall at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport this morning. Doomed Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 departed the airport bound for Kuala Lumpur exactly one year ago today
People attend a religious memorial service at an Orthodox Church near the MH17 crash site this morning
Public display of emotion: In Hrabove this morning, about 200 residents carrying flowers gathered in a church for a memorial service and procession to the crash site
Harrowing: Exactly one year ago, 298 passengers and crew members died aboard the Kuala Lumpur bound flight after it was shot down over east Ukraine, 40km from the Russian border, on July 17
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has reaffirmed his support for the establishment of a United Nations criminal tribunal that could prosecute those responsible for downing the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the idea 'counter-productive', lowering the chances of anybody ever being brought to justice over the attack.
Putin's official spokesman yesterday refused to say whether Moscow would use its veto on the UN Security Council should a call to set up the tribunal come up for a vote.
Britain has added its name to those calling for an investigation into MH17, with Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond saying 'justice must be delivered'. Ten Britons were on board the doomed flight.
Hammond added that prosecutions by international tribunal, backed by a UN resolution, must now take place.
Respect: People wearing T-shirts plane and slogans reading 'MH 17, One year in the skies' hold flowers outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev earlier this morning
Sadness: People wearing t-shirts bearing a drawing of a plane and slogans reading 'MH 17, One year in the skies' lay flowers in front of the Dutch embassy in Kiev earlier this morning
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko (right) supports the establishment of a UN criminal tribunal that could prosecute those responsible for downing the flight. But Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) has called the idea 'counter-productive', lowering the chances of anybody ever being brought to justice over the attack
Demand: Britain has added its name to those calling for an investigation into MH17, with Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond (pictured) saying 'justice must be delivered'. Ten Britons were on board the doomed flight
Horrific: An emergency services worker photographs debris from the Malaysia Airlines crash site after it was shot down over east Ukraine, 40km from the Russian border, in July 2014
In Hrabove this morning, about 200 residents carrying flowers gathered in a church for a memorial service and procession to nearby fields organized by local leaders and the Russia-backed separatist rebels who control the area.
The procession mainly consisted of women and children, who carried icons and chanted Orthodox liturgical music. The perimeter of the procession was guarded by men in Soviet military uniforms.
About 100 people carried the flags of the countries of the victims as well as the separatist flags stood by a small stone at the crash site which bore a plaque saying: 'To the memory of 298 dead, innocent victims of the civil war.'
Some of the mourners held banners, accusing the Kiev government of waging a war on them and likening the MH17 victims to those killed in indiscriminate shelling in the past year and a half.
'They killed you, but our people still get killed,' one banner said.
Speaking in Kiev yesterday, Poroshenko said the flight was the victim of a 'terrorist attack launched from the territory occupied by Russian-backed militants in the east of Ukraine.'
'The advanced weapon with which (the) aircraft was shot down could have come to the hands of terrorists only from Russia,' he said in a late night address on local television.'
'It would not have happened without the participation and an order from top political and military leaders of the neighbouring state.'
Grief: Families of the 38 Australians have gathered at a national service at Parliament House in Canberra to mark the one year anniversary of the downing of Flight MH17 in Ukraine
Mourning: About 120 relatives of the MH17 victims laid floral tributes on a plaque mounted on soil brought to the Australian capital Canberra from the spot where the plane was shot down in Ukraine
Tony Abbott unveiled a plaque with the names of the Australians killed in the MH17 atrocity a year ago today
George Dyczynski, father of victim Fatima Dyczynski, was one of 120 family members to gather at a national service at Parliament House in Canberra to mark the one year anniversary of the downing of Flight MH17
In Canberra, the Australian Prime Minister unveiled a plaque, set in soil that a police officer brought back from Ukraine, listing 40 victims 'who called Australia home.'
'He knew that the place where MH17 came to rest was sacred and that a piece of it should come back to Australia,' Abbott said.
Abbott and his wife laid a wreath at the base of the plaque. Dozens of family members of the victims followed, many in tears as they added their flowers alongside the wreath. Some kissed the bouquets before they placed them, others kissed their fingers and pressed them against the plaque.
In the Netherlands, hundreds of relatives of those killed on MH17 gathered at a conference center near the central city of Utrecht - an event organizaed by the relatives themselves. It was planned to feature music, dance and the reading out of the names of all 298 victims.
Flags on government buildings around the country hardest hit in the disaster - 196 of the victims were Dutch nationals - were flying at half-staff throughout the day.
Yesterday shocking new footage emerged showing separatist rebels in Ukraine filming themselves rifling through the belongings of passengers killed on board flight MH17.
The footage shows the immediate aftermath of Flight MH17 with the rebels initially believing that had shot down a Ukrainian air force jet.
Rummaging: The footage of the immediate aftermath of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 crash shows the Russian-backed rebels trawling through victims' luggage as they wade through the burning wreckage
Disrespect: The footage shows the immediate aftermath of Flight MH17 with Russian-back rebels initially believing that had shot down a Ukrainian air force jet
People walk among the debris at the crash site of the passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine
Carnage: At the time investigators said the wreckage appeared 'to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft'
Debris: Body parts and passengers' luggage, like these remote controls, were discovered strewn across the surrounding area after the plane was shot down