With eerie timing, part of what appears to be the trailing edge of a wing of missing airliner MH370, encrusted in barnacles, has washed up on a South African beach.
The find, with photos published by the South African aviation forum Avcom, was apparently made on Friday morning, 27 January 2017, on a beach on the Transkei coast near East London.
That was nine days after the fateful decision to call off the search for the missing B777, leaving the greatest mystery in aviation history unsolved, probably forever.
After unsuccessfully searching 120,000 square kilometres of the ocean floor, authorities admit they cannot locate the aircraft in the Indian Ocean.
Two images of the new find appear here. Those and two others are published on the Avcom site.
The passenger plane carrying 239 passengers and crew, including six Australians, disappeared on 8 March 2014 while travelling between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, in circumstances that remain unclear. As far as anyone can tell, the aircraft was never seen again.
On 18 January, the governments of Australia, Malaysia and China ‘suspended’ the sea floor search for the plane.
Curiously, just weeks earlier, in December 2016, an Australian Government report found that the searchers had most likely been looking in the wrong section of ocean all along.
“There is a high degree of confidence that the previously identified underwater area searched to date does not contain the missing aircraft,” an Australian Transport Safety Bureau report said. Experts suggested it was further north.
Since the flight went down, various parts of the plane have been washed up on islands in the Indian Ocean. It has been determined that the aircraft is unlikely to have hit the water in a controlled manner. The latest find is unlikely to change that.
The main section of the aircraft, however, has not been found. Barring an unexpected discovery or sudden revelation, the cause of the terrible disaster is likely to remain forever unknown.
Written by Peter Needham