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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

MH370: Experts to analyze 3 suspected plane parts

A total of three debris items have been found over the last two weeks in the southeast African nation of Mozambique and on France's RĂ©union Island in the Indian Ocean, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Monday. Authorities will reportedly analyze the debris to determine its links to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Authorities will be sending the first piece of debris found two weeks ago on a sandbank in the Mozambique Channel — the ocean strait between Mozambique and Madagascar, to Australia, after the second debris item in custody of a South African family reaches Malaysia, Liow said in a statement.

Malaysian authorities confirmed that they are aware of the second fragment of debris discovered in Mozambique by the South African family, which took the piece to their hometown of KwaZulu-Natal.

“As the debris was taken back to South Africa by the family, DCA has been in contact with the South African authorities on this matter to arrange for the South African authorities to take custody of it,” Liow said, in the statement. “A Malaysian team consisting of the Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370, DCA and MAS will be dispatched in due course to take custody of the piece from the South African Civil Aviation Authority.”

Liow said that Malaysia wants to be "transparent and accountable in our investigation as much as possible ... that is why we want (the parts) to be verified in Australia," according to Australia's SBS news, adding that a Malaysian team will scour the beaches in Mozambique for more possible debris.

Liow also said in the statement that a third debris was found on RĂ©union Island, where a flaperon belonging to a Boeing 777-200 jet, the same type as the missing Flight MH370 was found last July.

“A Malaysian team from DCA and the Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370 has inspected the piece. The debris will be transferred to France for verification by the French authorities, with the participation of the Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team for MH370,” Liow said in the statement.

As authorities continued to work to determine the links of the debris to the missing Flight MH370, Liow urged “the public to avoid premature and unwarranted speculation.”

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A multimillion-dollar search operation in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean is underway, but it has not revealed any concrete clues about the plane's whereabouts. Search vessels have so far scoured 34,749 sq. miles of the total 46,332 sq. miles of designated search area, while authorities have said the search is due to be called off in June if no wreckage is found.

“It is important to re-emphasize that at this juncture, it has not been confirmed whether any of the recovered debris came from MH370. It is therefore crucial for verification of all three pieces to be conducted by the respective teams of experts in Australia and France,” Liow said.

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