MH370 search: Beach cleaners were going to use possible debris as a tourist attraction

The men said they had no idea of the significance of their find at first

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The Independent Online

Beach cleaners who found what could be part of MH370’s wing said they initially had no idea of the magnitude of their discovery and planned to use it as a tourist attraction.

Investigators are trying to verify whether the piece of metal washed up on the remote French island of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, is from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Officials have said they are “almost certain” it comes from a Boeing 777 – the same model as the disappeared aircraft – but need to conduct further tests.

It would be the first time any trace of the aircraft has been found since it vanished on 8 March last year, despite more than 500 days of searches on land, air and sea.

The debris was found on Wednesday morning by beach cleaners doing their rounds in Saint- André.

The six council employees said they had no idea what they had discovered in an interview with local news website L’info.

Fabrice Avanandé, a member of the group, said: “This is the first time in our lives that we've seen anything like it, so we thought we would put it on display and see how much tourists would spend to see a piece of an aeroplane wing.

“Then we realised it was important and that it was better to inform the press.”

This morning, a suitcase was found by beach cleaners in Bois Rouge, the same place where the debris washed up.

Local media described it as rusty and in a “very bad state”, saying it had been taken by police for further investigation.

The mystery of what happened to the plane from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has sparked endless conspiracy theories and anguish for families who have struggled to find closure over their loved ones' deaths.

A massive multinational search effort of the southern Indian Ocean, the China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand in the months after the tragedy turned up no trace of the plane and all passengers and crew were eventually declared dead.

The last radar contact placed the aircraft over the Andaman Sea about 230 miles north-west of the Malaysian city of Penang.

Réunion is about 3,500 miles south-west of Penang and about 2,600 miles away from the current search area.

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