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Airliner Debris Found in Mozambique Being Investigated as Possible MH370 Wreckage

The debris is reportedly the horizontal stabilizer skin from a Boeing 777, the same type of aircraft that vanished nearly two years ago while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

by VICE News
Mar 2 2016, 3:05pm

Photo by Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

Authorities are investigating whether airplane debris that washed ashore in Mozambique could be a piece of the wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that went missing in Southeast Asia nearly two years ago.  

The piece has yet to be examined by aviation experts, but according to  a report from CNN citing an unnamed US official, the debris is part of the horizontal stabilizer skin from a Boeing 777 plane. The part will make its way to Malaysia for further analysis to determine whether or not it is from the plane that vanished on March 8, 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 passengers and crew.

Debris was allegedly found on a sandbank in the Mozambique Channel by an American man who has been tracking the investigation into the missing flight, NBC reported. The news outlet also cited sources as saying the piece looks like it belongs to a Boeing 777 and that Boeing engineers were examining the photos.

Mozambican authorities said they do not have any information on the sighting of such an object off the coast of the country's Inhambane province, Interior Ministry spokesman Inacio Dina told Reuters.

In July, Boeing 777 parts turned up on Reunion Island, which lies just east of Madagascar and roughly 3,800 miles from where the plane was last spotted near the southern tip of Vietnam. A team of investigators later determined the debris, which was found by municipal employees on the island, was in fact party of MH370. 

There have been false alarms in relation to MH370 in the past as well, including wreckage that washed up in Thailand earlier this year. The missing Malaysia Airlines flight is believed to be the only unaccounted for Boeing 777, according to CNN. 

Related: Latest Crash Exposes Dangerously Low Standards for Airline Pilots in Asia

When the plane disappeared in the middle of the night, the mystery led to an international effort to canvass a nearly 23,000-square-mile search zone. The initial search involved 19 ships and 345 search sorties by military aircraft. The effort cost nearly $94 million and is considered the most expensive search operation in aviation history. 

The plane flew northwest over Malaysia toward Vietnam, and was last sighted on radar 140 miles southwest of Vietnam, somewhere in the vicinity of the Gulf of Thailand, according to Vietnamese officials. There were conflicting reports immediately after the plane's disappearance about when exactly air traffic controllers lost radio contact. At first, officials reported that they could no longer contact the plane two hours after takeoff, but the figure was later revised to one hour.

After the plane veered off course, a number of conspiracy theories emerged to explain the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance. A Russian newspaper claimed that Afghan terrorists had hijacked the plane, and, after Malaysian police opened an investigation into the airline, rumors surfaced that the company was covering up a pilot's suicide. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad made headlines when he claimed that the CIA knew of the plane whereabouts and covered it up. In February, an aviation expert wrote a lengthy feature for New York magazine detailing why the plane may have been hijacked by Russians and flown to Kazakhstan.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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