Malaysian authorities say a team on Reunion Island has found other plane parts
But French officials on the island and in Paris haven't reported any such debris
Malaysian officials give details on what makes them sure the part found last week was from MH370
Malaysia’s Transport Ministry said Thursday that more plane parts have washed up on the same remote French island as a wing part that is believed – with varying degrees of certainty – to be from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The new items found on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean include pieces of windows, seat cushions and aluminum, Malaysian officials said. But they added that it’s unclear whether the objects, which still need to be verified by French authorities, are from MH370.
“The team told us they have managed to collect more debris on the island and we have handed it over to the authorities in France,” Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters. “A plane window and some aluminum foil … there are many items.”
French officials on Reunion and in Paris, however, haven’t reported any new plane debris.
And an Australian agency helping coordinate the search for the missing airliner said Wednesday, the day before Malaysia announced the discovery of new items, that there was no indication so far of any more aircraft debris.
“A great deal of additional material has been handed over to the police” on Reunion, Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre said in a statement. “While this is being examined, so far none of it appears to have come from an aircraft.”
The Australians are in charge of the underwater search for Flight 370 in the eastern Indian Ocean, thousands of miles from Reunion. Malaysia has overall responsibility for the investigation into the loss of the plane.
Although Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the wing part found last week, which is called a flaperon, is certainly from MH370, other officials have expressed more caution and say that more testing is needed.
Less than an hour after the Prime Minister’s statement, Paris Deputy Prosecutor Serge Mackowiak used slightly less definitive language. He said that there were “very strong presumptions” that the debris from Reunion is from MH370, but that absolute certainty was not yet possible.
Malaysian officials provided more details later Thursday of what makes them sure it was from the missing jet, including a serial number that matches technical records.
The Boeing 777, carrying 239 people, disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
Some families of those on board have said they are angry, frustrated and bewildered by what they’ve been told.
“I was left somewhat confused and, frankly, a little angry and dismayed,” said K.S. Narendran, whose wife was one of the passengers.
“I didn’t hear facts. I didn’t hear the basics. I heard nothing,” he said, “and so it leaves me wondering whether there is a foregone conclusion and everyone is racing for the finish.”
The families of Chinese passengers, the most numerous nationality on the flight, were also unsatisfied.
“I don’t believe this. I don’t!” said Xu Jinghong, whose mother was on board Flight 370. “I am furious and I think this announcement is very irresponsible.”
Chinese families said last week they wanted “confirmation of 100% certainty” from authorities that the part was from MH370. But the differing Malaysian and French statements appeared to leave them with room for uncertainty.
Other relatives said that the flaperon was only a small piece of a much larger puzzle.
“It’s not the end,” Jacquita Gonzales, wife of crew member Patrick Gomes, told reporters. “Although they found something, you know, it’s not the end. They still need to find the whole plane and our spouses as well. We still want them back.”
Lim Khim Fatt’s husband was on the flight.
“There’s a lot of questions that haven’t been answered yet,” she said.
A history of family skepticism
Some families have long been skeptical and disappointed by how Malaysian officials have handled looking for and delivering news about the missing plane.
The Malaysian government has been wrong several times before. On March 17, for example, Malaysian authorities publicly confirmed the final words from the cockpit as “All right, good night.”
The innocuous bit of radio banter became yet another headache for investigators when, after days of prodding from reporters and family members, they released a transcript showing the final words were actually, “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.”
Malaysian military radar captured signatures of what was believed to have been Flight 370, but it wasn’t immediately noticed.