SYDNEY, Australia – Three pieces of debris found washed ashore in Mozambique and the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius will be examined by investigators in Australia to see if they came from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, officials said Thursday.
Two of the pieces were found in Mauritius, and one was discovered in Mozambique, Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said. Other debris from the Boeing 777 that vanished two years ago has previously been found in both countries.
The Malaysian government is arranging to collect the items, Chester said in a statement. The debris will then be flown to Australia for examination.
Chester did not release details on what the debris looked like or who found them, saying only that the items are “of interest.”
Two weeks ago, officials said a piece of engine cowling found in South Africa and an interior panel piece from an aircraft cabin found on Rodrigues Island off Mauritius were almost certainly from Flight 370. Those parts were the fourth and fifth pieces of the plane that have been recovered since it disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
An extensive underwater search of a vast area of the Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast has turned up empty, with crews expected to complete their sweep of the search zone by July or August. Crews have less than 15,000 square kilometres (5,800 square miles) of the 120,000 square kilometre (46,000 square mile) search area left to scour, and there are no plans to extend the hunt beyond that.
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Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, acknowledged it is looking less likely that Flight 370 will be found as the search nears the end.
“That’s just a statement of the obvious,” said Dolan, whose agency is heading up the search effort. “We’ve covered a fairly significant proportion of our total search area without finding the aircraft and so we have to start considering the alternatives. But we’ve still got 15,000 square kilometres to go – which is a big chunk. … So it’s not as though we’ve given up.”
Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.