The search for debris from Malaysia Airlines MH370 has intensified on Réunion Island, a small French island in the western Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar. Malaysian officials found what they suspected was the door of a plane on Réunion on Sunday, but an aviation official has said the debris is actually just a "domestic ladder" and doesn't belong to a plane, according to the Associated Press. On Wednesday, officials found what appeared to be a flaperon, which is a component of a plane's wing, and sent it to a French military testing facility to be analyzed by experts. Though this new debris probably doesn't belong to MH370, the search on Réunion is continuing and experts are hoping the flaperon will finally provide closure for the families of the flight's 239 passengers.
MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 after leaving Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for Beijing, according to CNN. It was last heard from in the Strait of Malacca, which is the small area of the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam — about 5,556 kilometers, or 3,500 miles northeast of Réunion Island.
Experts have said that the flaperon appears to resemble the flaperon of a Boeing 777, the same kind of jet used for MH370. MH370 is the only missing 777 on record, and BBC News reported that both Boeing and French authorities have confirmed that the flaperon was part of a 777. In addition to the flaperon and the ladder, a government official told CNN that search teams also found a "metal object of interest" on Thursday. The debris was transferred to Toulouse, France, on Saturday for analysis.
BBC News' Karen Allen said some of the new debris was found just north of where the flaperon was. The object was taken away, and Malaysia's transport ministry has said that it wants to expand the search on Réunion for more debris. However, Malaysia's Director General of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told the AP that the piece of metal that some thought was a door frame might have been a false alarm:
I read all over media [the new debris] was part of a door. But I checked with the Civil Aviation Authority, and people on the ground in Reunion, and it was just a domestic ladder.
A photographer for the Agence France-Presse news agency also claimed to have seen a "mangled piece of metal inscribed with two Chinese characters, attached to a leather-covered handle and measuring 100 sq cm" being put into an iron case and carried away, according to the BBC. Exactly how much debris has been found and tested or is on its way to testing is unclear.
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