Sepang – An American adventurer said Saturday that it would be a “very lucky discovery” if the piece of aircraft he found on a sandbank off the coast of Mozambique is confirmed to be from the Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished two years ago. Blaine Gibson, who said he’s been searching for Flight 370 over the last year, flew to Malaysia to attend a commemorative ceremony held yesterday by families of the 239 people who were on board the plane to mark the second anniversary of its disappearance.
Speaking on his arrival at the airport outside of Kuala Lumpur, Gibson said that he had wanted no publicity about his February. 27 discovery until after the piece was assessed by investigators, but that news of the finding leaked.
The 58-year-old lawyer from Seattle said he was cautious about the possibility that the part is from the missing Boeing 777 because three large jets had crashed in the area before.
“I’d say it was a very lucky discovery if it turns out to be from Malaysia 370,” said Gibson, who was wearing a black T-shirt that read “MH370 Search On.”
Even if the piece does not turn out to be from the jet that disappeared on March 8, 2014, Gibson said his discovery could still be useful, perhaps providing clues to another air disaster or raising the public’s awareness that the mystery of Flight 370 still has not been solved.
Gibson said he hopes his finding will encourage more people in the area to comb beaches for clues and to hand over any items they think could be passenger belongings or plane debris to authorities to be assessed.
An ongoing search in the southern Indian Ocean has found no trace of the missing plane, though a wing part from the jet washed ashore on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean in July.
The new piece of debris is now in the hands of Mozambique civil aviation authorities and is expected to be sent to Australia this coming week to be examined. Australia is leading the search for the jet.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai has said there is a “high” probability that the part is from a Boeing 777. Flight 370 is the only missing 777.
Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said the location of the debris matches investigators’ drift modelling and would therefore confirm that search crews are looking in the right place for the main underwater wreckage. Gibson said he didn’t travel to Mozambique specifically to search for the plane. He said he loves travelling and picked Mozambique — the 177th country he has visited — because he had never been there before.
He arrived in Mozambique on February 20 and spent his time sightseeing before deciding to look for possible plane debris a week later, when he hired a boat to go to the sandbank. He said the sandbank was suggested by a local tour guide because it was where fishermen would go to scour for ropes and other items that are washed in from the open sea.
Gibson said half an hour after they started searching the sandbank, the tour guide spotted the piece lying on top of the sand and quickly called him over. – AFP