Man who found MH370 flaperon finds another possible part on Reunion beach


The man who found a wing fragment of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared nearly two years ago, on a beach in the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion has found more mysterious debris, a square gray item with blue border, in nearly the same spot.

Johny Begue told The Associated Press on Sunday that he found the piece about 5:30 p.m. (1630 GMT) Thursday and turned it into the gendarmerie on Friday morning. A special gendarmerie air brigade in Saint Denis, the capital of Reunion, confirmed it received the item.

Begue found a wing fragment known as a flaperon on July 29 that French investigators identified in September as part of the passenger jet that disappeared with 239 people aboard on March 8, 2014.

Begue said that unlike the flaperon there were no barnacles on the latest item, which he said was square and estimated that it measured 40 by 40 cm (about 15.5 by 15.5 inches).

“I was running. After, when I stopped to rest, that’s when I found the piece” lying on the stony beach several meters from the water, Begue said by telephone. “The same beach and nearly the same place.”

He said the piece he found on the Saint-Andre beach was thinner and smaller than the flaperon, but the material had the same appearance, with a honeycombed interior.

“It looks like the other one, but I don’t know if it’s part of the plane or not. Experts will say,” the 49-year-old Begue said.

The gendarmerie’s Territorial Air Brigade confirmed that Begue turned over the piece on Friday morning, but had no further comment.

The flaperon, which had a serial number, was sent to the French Accident Investigation Bureau’s research laboratory near Toulouse where it was positively identified as a part corresponding to the missing Malaysian plane, a Boeing 777.

Begue’s latest discovery came just days after an American, Blaine Gibson, found an airplane part in Mozambique, also with a coastline on the Indian Ocean but west of Reunion.

Begue, who found the flaperon while cleaning a beach last July, told AFP on Sunday he handed over the new suspected object to police immediately after finding it last Thursday.

The flaperon he found remains the only piece of debris identified with certainty as having come from the flight.

Begue said he has been combing the island’s shores ever since.

“When there’s bad weather is when you should look, when the sea tosses up a lot of stuff,” he said.

Police have not contacted Begue since he handed over the new object on Thursday, he said.

The Gendarmerie Brigade for Air Transport could not immediately be reached by AFP for comment.

MH370, a Boeing 777, was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it vanished on March 8, 2014, on an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Begue’s reported find came three days after an American amateur investigator found suspected MH370 debris in Mozambique, some 2,100 km (1,300 miles) west of Reunion.

That object, which is about a meter (3.25 feet) long, has been sent to Australia for expert analysis.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said last Wednesday that initial information indicated a “high possibility” it came from a Boeing 777.

An international team of investigators probing the loss of MH370 will issue a statement on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the plane’s disappearance.

The unprecedented Australian-led hunt for wreckage from the flight is expected to finish its high-tech scanning of a designated swath of seafloor in the remote Indian Ocean by July.

Australian, Malaysian and Chinese authorities plan to end the search — projected to cost up to $130 million (120 million euros) — at that point if no compelling new leads emerge.