Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Investigators evacuated from Reunion Island

July 31, 2015 4:37 pm

 

A
piece of aeroplane debris known as a flaperon from a Boeing 777 found
washed up on the shore of the island of Saint-Andre in La Reunion.

Investigators examining a piece of debris suspected to belong to
missing Airlines flight MH370 have been forced to flee the
site, according to .com.au.
An emergency evacuation is underway on the island of Reunion where Le Piton de la Fournaise has recorded unusual activity.
Scientists at island’s volcanic observatory, the OVPF, warned an eruption was “imminent and probable”.
The
evacuation bizarrely comes just hours after it was reported the
suspected wreckage of missing passenger jet Malaysian Airlines MH370
washed up on the beach.
The volcano, situated on the south-east side of La Reunion, is a World Heritage site.

Up to 10 Malaysian experts reportedly arrived at La Reunion only to be evacuated.

A beach walker passes by the shore where an airplane wing part was washed up in the early morning near Saint-Andre on the north coast of the Indian Ocean island. Photo / AP
A beach walker passes by the shore where an
airplane wing part was washed up in the early morning near Saint-Andre
on the north coast of the Indian Ocean island. Photo / AP

Workers for an association responsible for maintaining paths to the beaches from being overgrown by shrubs, search the beach for possible additional airplane debris. Photo / AP
Workers for an association responsible for
maintaining paths to the beaches from being overgrown by shrubs, search
the beach for possible additional airplane debris. Photo / AP

Debris may not lead to aircraft

While
wreckage found on a remote Indian Ocean island has encouraged
authorities in their search for MH370, the federal government has
cautioned the discovery won’t necessarily lead to finding the aircraft.
Debris
washed up on La Reunion has been sent to France for analysis and
authorities are “increasingly confident” the two-metre piece of wreckage
will provide the first tangible proof that the plane, which disappeared
almost 17 months ago while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, is
laying at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
The wreckage was being
flown to a testing site near Toulouse, and could reach there by
Saturday.The plane was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it changed
course and vanished without a trace on March 8 last year.
Prime
Minister Tony Abbott said the discovery, on a beach some 4,000
kilometres from where the Boeing 777 was thought to have crashed, is an
“encouraging sign”.
“This has been an absolutely baffling mystery
up until now. At last it seems that we may be on the verge of some
confirmation,” Mr Abbott said.
But Transport Minister Warren
Truss warned on Friday the find may do little in helping authorities
determine exactly where the plane plunged into the sea, or where it may
now lay.
“After 16 months, the vagaries of the currents, reverse modelling is almost impossible,” Mr Truss said.
“And
so I don’t think it contributes a great deal in as far as our knowledge
of where the aircraft is located at the present time.”
“However
… the fact that wreckage is on Reunion Island or in the Madagascar
area is consistent with some of the modelling we’ve done in relation to
current movements and our predictions as to where wreckage from MH370
could make land fall if any of it was moving with the currents.”
An
oceanographer with Blue Water Recoveries – a salvage company involved
in the search for the Air France plane that crashed in the Atlantic
Ocean in 2009 – told The New York Times it was possible that debris
could drift thousands of kilometres from the search area to the tiny
island, east of Madagascar.
However, David Mearns said it was “not possible to backtrack it, or calculate a plunge point with any level of precision”.
Mr Truss said if the piece is identified as wreckage from MH370, it will “eliminate some of the theories that have been around”.
“It
establishes really beyond any doubt that the aircraft is resting in the
Indian Ocean and not secretly parked in some hidden place on the land
in another part of the world,” he said.
Mr Truss, on Friday
afternoon, said authorities were now “less certain” about whether a
suitcase found on the same beach is related to the plane.
The
head of Australia’s air crash investigation team, Martin Dolan, said the
debris very closely resembled a specific part of a Boeing 777 and was
“likely to be associated with MH370”.
Mr Dolan said the debris, if found to be that of MH370, confirmed investigators had been searching in the right area.
“We
remain highly confident in our work defining the search area,” he
said.Mr Dolan said on Friday he was hoping for greater clarity “within
the next 24 hours”.
Over the past 24 hours, scientists at The
University of Western Australia have refined 12-month-old computer
modelling maps that show the possible location of the suspected crash
site and the potential drift patterns of the debris.
They concluded that debris could have drifted from the current MH370 search area to Reunion Island.
“The
computer predictions indicated that it would take between 12 and 18
months for the debris to travel from the current search area in the
south-east Indian Ocean to Reunion Island,” Professor of coastal
oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi said.
He said there was a
possibility that more debris could wash up in the region around the
island as well as Madagascar in coming weeks.
“There is also a possibility that debris may be washed ashore on the coast of Western Australia,” Prof Pattiaratchi said.
“One
piece of debris washing up on the same beach isn’t going to help us –
what we would really like to have is a variety of locations. That will
give us a much better chance of finding out what happened to the missing
flight.”

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