Malaysian officials expressed confidence that a piece of aircraft debris washed up on a beach on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion is from a Boeing 777 jet, increasing the likelihood it comes from flight MH370, the Malaysia Airlines aircraft that disappeared 17 months ago without a trace.
马来西亚官员表示相信，被冲上印度洋法属留尼汪岛(La Réunion)的一块飞机碎片来自一架波音777(Boeing 777)飞机，这意味着这块碎片很有可能来自17个月以前消失得无影无踪的马来西亚航空公司(Malaysia Airlines) MH370航班。
Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, confirmed earlier comments by one of his ministers that the piece of wreckage was almost certainly from a Boeing 777 aircraft. “Reports suggest that the debris is very likely to be from a Boeing 777, but we need to verify whether it is from flight MH370. At this stage it is too early to speculate,” Mr Najib wrote on his official blog.
If the part is from a 777 twin-engined jet, it is highly likely to be from MH370, since other known losses of the aircraft type — including last year’s shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine — occurred over land.
Mr Najib said the piece of debris would be sent to a laboratory in Toulouse, France, for inspection by investigators from the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses. La Réunion is a French territory east of Madagascar, which under international law makes the BEA the lead investigative body.
纳吉布表示，这块碎片将被送到法国图卢兹的一个实验室，由法国航空事故调查处(Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, BEA)的专家进行检验。位于马达加斯加以东的留尼汪岛是法国领土，按照国际法，这使法国航空事故调查处成为牵头调查机构。
The Malaysians, Australians and Chinese have been conducting an extensive search for the aircraft off the west coast of Australia since it disappeared on March 8 2014. The jet was carrying 239 people on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Warren Truss, Australia’s deputy prime minister, described the discovery of the debris as a significant development. “It’s the first real evidence that there’s a possibility that part of the aircraft may have been found,” he said. But he cautioned: “It’s too early to make that judgment, but clearly we’re treating this as a major lead.”
There were also unconfirmed reports that a badly damaged piece of luggage has been found close to where the debris washed up on La Réunion. Journalist Julien Delarue, who works for a local newspaper, posted a photograph of the suitcase on Twitter. It is not known whether the luggage came from MH370.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said yesterday that the discovery of the wreckage on the island was “not inconsistent with the current search location” which is 4,200km east of La Réunion. The search teams are working on the theory that MH370 crashed within a 120,000 sq km area of the southern Indian Ocean, 1,800km south-west of Australia.
澳大利亚交通安全局(Australian Transport Safety Bureau)昨日表示，在留尼汪岛发现飞机残骸“与当前的搜索位置并不矛盾”；当前搜索位置在留尼汪岛以东4200公里。搜索团队依据的理论是，MH370航班在南印度洋一个12万平方公里的区域内坠毁，大致位于澳大利亚西南方向1800公里。
If the part is from the missing flight, it could provide critical clues to the fate of MH370: radar tracking showed the aircraft changed course to the west after heading north-east from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing without any further communication from the pilots. Later analysis of satellite signals suggested the aircraft had then turned south and headed out over the Indian Ocean.
Assumptions were made about the aircraft speed and height and it was decided it was likely to have ditched in the sea somewhere off Australia’s west coast when it ran out of fuel.
A multinational force of ships and aircraft have spent months searching a large area of the Indian Ocean without success. Experts said the discovery of the wreckage so far from the theoretical crash zone was consistent with the direction of the ocean currents.
The undersea search for Flight MH370 is one of the most complex and expensive in aviation history, costing about $150m to date.