Malaysian Airlines: Too early to speculate on aircraft wreckage

  • 30/07/2015
(Photo: 3 News)
(Photo: 3 News)

Malaysia Airlines says it is "premature" to speculate on whether wreckage found in the Indian Ocean is from missing flight MH370, as authorities scrambled to verify the origin of the debris.

The two-metre long piece of wreckage, possibly from a wing part known as a flaperon, was found on a beach on the French island of La Reunion.

"At the moment, it would be too premature for the airline to speculate (on) the origin of the flaperon," Malaysia Airlines said in a statement.

It said it was working with "relevant authorities to confirm the matter".

Earlier, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said his government had sent a team to examine the find, while also cautioning against jumping to conclusions.

MH370 vanished at night over the South China Sea after mysteriously diverting from its north-bound route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

Authorities involved in an Australian-led search believe it went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

But no physical evidence 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.

Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said his agency would meet on Thursday with the country's transport ministry, foreign ministry, and Malaysia Airlines to discuss "next steps".

"But first we need to verify whether this part belongs to MH370. We have to look at it," he said.

Malaysian authorities could not offer an estimate of when experts might be able to definitively determine whether the part is from MH370.

Malaysia is overall coordinator of an investigative effort that includes Boeing, the Australia Transport Safety Bureau and other agencies.

The initial search for MH370 was marked by a series of false leads and contradictory statements by Malaysian authorities, and the news of the discovery stirred painful emotions in next of kin frustrated by the lack of evidence.

"We have been on the roller coaster many times and have managed to settle, but now this," said Jacquita Gonzales, whose husband Patrick Gomes was the flight's cabin crew supervisor.

"We have mixed feelings. If this is true, at least I know I can have peace and give my husband a proper send-off. But part of us still hopes they are out there alive somewhere."

The wife of a New Zealand victim aboard flight MH370 is reportedly clinging to a "minute hope" passengers may have survived.

Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul was on board MH370, told the Daily Mail said it would be very sad if a piece of wreckage that washed up on an Indian Ocean island was confirmed as being from the missing Boeing 777.

But she still had "minute hope they may be coming home, which you hold onto with no evidence".

"On the other side, if it's a piece of a plane we might be able to solve the mystery and bring him home and do what's right for him," she said.

Two New Zealanders, Mr Weeks and Ximin Wang, were on the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing which disappeared with 239 passengers and crew on board on March 8, 2014.

Ms Weeks said the family had been living a "surreal life" for the past 510 days not knowing if Mr Weeks was alive or dead.

A Channel Nine reporter who visited Ms Weeks at her home on Perth's north-eastern fringe on Thursday said the family was not holding its breath over the find, considering their hopes has been raised in the past, then dashed.

Ms Weeks said if the wreckage were found to be part of the jetliner it would give the family some closure, but the question of where the rest of the plane and her husband was would remain.

She said Malaysia Airlines had yet not been in contact regarding the development, which she found out about in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The 2m-long, 1m-wide piece of debris found on Reunion Island appears to be a "flaperon", Australian aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas told Sydney's Seven Network.