The photo above is from an article on a French-language website. It says that the object was found two weeks ago by a French tourist, who gave it to a boat captain, who only gave it to the authorities on Tuesday, May 24. The piece is 80 cm by 40 cm and was discovered on a small island called L’ile aux Bernaches, which lies within the main reef surrounding Mauritius. It is now in the possession of the National Coast Guard, who will pass along photos to the Malaysians and, if they deem it likely to be a part of the missing plane, will send experts to collect it. (According to a second story here.)
The photograph above is the only one that seems to be available so far, and is quite low-res, but it seems to lack any visible barnacles, but has quite a lot of the roughness that barnacles leave behind after they’ve detached, as seen in the Mossel Bay piece. Perhaps worth noting that so far, pieces found on islands (Réunion, Rodrigues) have had substantial goose barnacle populations living on them, while pieces found on the African mainland have been bare. This piece breaks that trend.
Also worth noting, I think, is that all of the objects discovered so far were found by tourists, with the exception of the flaperon, which was found during a beach cleaning of the kind that only happens an tourist destinations. Drift models predict that a lot of the debris should have come ashore on the east coast of Madagascar, but this is not a place that tourists generally frequent. There are also large stretches of the southern African coast that probably see little tourism. All of which is to say that a concerted effort to sweep remote beaches should turn up a lot of MH370 debris.
I haven’t seen any speculation yet as to which part of the plane this latest piece might have come from–any ideas?
UPDATE 5/25/16: In a surprising coincidence, another piece of potential debris has also turned up on Mauritius. According to Ion News, the object was found by a Coast Guard foot patrol along a beach at Gris-Gris, the southernmost point on the island. It was found resting about six meters from the water.
UPDATE 5/26/16: In another surprising turn of events, Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chesterhas issued a media release in which he “confirmed reports that three new pieces of debris—two in Mauritius and one in Mozambique—have been found and are of interest in connection to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.”
The release goes on:
“The Malaysian Government is yet to take custody of the items, however as with previous items, Malaysian officials are arranging collection and it is expected the items will be brought to Australia for examination,” Mr Chester said. “These items of debris are of interest and will be examined by experts.”
This means of announcing findings related to MH370 marks a departure for the Australian government, which in the past has provided updates from the ATSB (Australia Transport Safety Board) itself. The items are picture below, courtesy of Kathy Mosesian at VeritasMH370:
Meanwhile, a reader has provided an image analysis of the second Mauritius fragment in order to provide a sense of scale:
He observes: “Some rough scaling puts it at around 14 by 26 inches. Those boulders in the other photo look like pebbles; makes it look the size of one cent piece. Note the increasing curvature left to right; ups the bet on a chunk of flap!”
UPDATE 5/27/16: Another piece turned up yesterday, making it four altogether since Wednesday. I think this qualifies as a “debris storm.” At the rate stuff is turning up, there should be a lot more to come. There hasn’t even been an organized search yet!
The BBC reports:
Luca Kuhn von Burgsdorff contacted the BBC on Thursday to say he found the fragment on the Macaneta peninsula.
The authorities have been notified. The piece must be examined by the official investigation team in Australia.
Experts say it is consistent with where previous pieces of debris from the missing plane have been found.
Mr von Burgsdorff took two photographs of the item on 22 May, and sent them to the BBC after reading a story on Thursday about other debris finds in the region.
He said the pieces were “reasonably light, did not have metal on the outside, and looked extremely similar to photos posted on the internet of other pieces of debris from aeroplanes”.