CAPE TOWN –– A piece of what appears to be a Rolls Royce engine cowling has been found on a beach in South Africa, according to officials.
The Malaysian authorities say a team will be sent to retrieve the item, which it will examine to determine if it is part of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared without a trace in March 2014. Since then it has become one of the biggest aviation mysteries of all time, although at least one piece, discovered on the western Indian Ocean island of Reunion in July 2015, has been confirmed to have been from the Boeing 777.
Another two pieces of possible debris, found in Mozambique by a South African teenager and an American lawyer, separately, have arrived in Australia to be analyzed.
“Based on early reports there is a possibility of the piece originating from an inlet cowling of an aircraft engine,” Malaysian Ministerof Transport Liow Tiong Lai, told reporters.
The latest piece, which appears to show part of engine maker Rolls Royce’s logo, was found near Mossel Bay, a small town in Western Cape province by Neels Kruger, an archaeologist.
“When I flipped it around, I didn’t know immediately what it was but just thought, ‘Oh my word!’,” he told the Associated Press. After consulting with pilots, he turned over the object to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
“The SACAA has been in touch with the gentleman who picked up what could be aircraft debris near Mossel Bay in the Western Cape,” Kabelo Ledwaba, a spokesperson from the South African Civil Aviation Authority told CNN.
“The necessary arrangements are under way for the collection of the part, which will then be handed over to Malaysian authorities, as was the case last week with the debris that was in the possession of the Lotter family from KwaZulu-Natal,” he said, referring to the debris that is now being investigated in Australia.
“The MH370 Safety Investigation Team will carry out the examination and analysis on the two pieces of debris with the assistance of experts from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines and Boeing to verify their origins,” a statement from the Malaysian Ministry of Transport, referencing the Mozambiquan find said.
“This is in order to adhere to full transparency and accountability in accordance with international protocols, whereby both pieces of debris will only be examined in Canberra once it is in the presence of these experts,” Liow said in a statement.
The jetliner vanished on March 8, 2014, after it took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to Beijing.
The search for the missing plane is focused on the so-called “seventh arc”, an area of the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia. The location of the confirmed and suspected debris in Reunion, Mozambique and now South Africa fits drift mapping, experts say.