French prosecutors still unable to confirm MH370 wreckage 'because staff are on holiday'

Families of those lost have expressed growing concern at the continued silence from the French investigation team

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The Independent Online

It is now almost four weeks since the Malaysian prime minister gave a TV press conference “confirming” that plane wreckage found on the island of Reunion was from the missing passenger jet MH370.

But amid growing confusion and anger from the families of those lost, investigators in France have reportedly been unable to provide their own confirmation because staff at a Spanish subcontractor are “on vacation”.

Almost 18 months after the disappearance of the Boeing 777 in the greatest unsolved mystery in aviation, an update on the French report into the “flaperon” found on Reunion is finally expected next week.

Explaining the delay, a source within the investigation team in Toulouse told CNN: “What we know so far is that it is for sure from a 777. We know that this is the only 777 that is missing in that specific region.

“We still need to identify a number that is inside the flaperon. It is a Spanish subcontracting company that owns that part. This company would be able to identify this number, but the staff is on vacation. We'll have to wait for next week to get their guidance.

“Judicial experts gave a preliminary report to the Paris prosecutors in the meantime.”

Martine Del Bono, spokesperson for the French BEA (Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses), said: "There are strong indications that this flaperon is from MH370, but we are still unsure. We are still missing identification from the parts list in order to fully confirm it is from MH370."

The underwater search for wreckage continues off the west coast of Australia, and the latest update from the Joint Agency Coordination Centre involved said two ships will continue the hunt despite challenging winter conditions.

Speaking to News.com.au, Australian officials said they don’t know when the French prosecutor’s report will be complete.

Joint Agency Coordination Centre chief Judith Zielke said: “We would hope it’s soon if possible but quite appreciate the fact the (French) judge will make that call when he’s comfortable.”

The search for more wreckage on Reunion and other remote Indian Ocean islands has been called off after nothing more was found beyond the flaperon.

And with the deep-sea hunt off Australia expected to be equipped with cutting-edge sonar equipment when weather improves from October, senior government officials from Malaysia, China and Australia are to meet next month to discuss how the search will be funded.

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