A piece in MH370’s puz­zle?

Man de­scribes find­ing de­bris that could hold clue to Malaysian plane mys­tery

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD - SAINT-AN­DRE, RE­UNION

Johnny Begue was out col­lect­ing stones on the French In­dian Ocean is­land he calls home when he says he saw part of an air­plane wing washed up in the sand.

The frag­ment may be the first clue to what hap­pened to Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370, which dis­ap­peared last year with 293 peo­ple aboard.

Mas­sive search ef­forts have failed to find any sign of the plane, and author­i­ties are an­a­lyz­ing the piece to see if it matches the miss­ing plane.

“I knew im­me­di­ately it was part of an air­craft, but I didn’t re­al­ize how im­por­tant it was, that it could help to solve the mys­tery of what hap­pened to the Malaysian jet,” Begue, 46, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Thurs­day.

Begue is the su­per­vi­sor of work­ers who main­tain the paths to the beaches in the Saint-An­dre area, keep­ing them from be­ing over­grown by the lush trop­i­cal shrubs.

He said he called sev­eral of his work­mates and they car­ried the wing frag­ment out of the wa­ter so that it would not be bat­tered by the surf against the vol­canic rocks that make up most of the beach.

Author­i­ties wouldn’t com­ment Thurs­day on whether Begue was the first to re­port dis­cov­er­ing the com­po­nent. Col­league Teddy Riv- iere cor­rob­o­rated his ac­count, and praised him for the dis­cov­ery. Mem­bers of Begue’s soc­cer team kid­ded him on his new fame in lo­cal media.

Begue said he also dis­cov­ered a piece of a suit­case nearby.

But it’s un­clear whether there is any link be­tween that and the plane part.

Though author­i­ties are still de­ter­min­ing whether the plane piece came from Flight 370, Begue said Thurs­day night, “We are go­ing out in the morn­ing to start mak­ing a me­mo­rial. We will use stones and maybe plant some flow­ers at the site.”

“We want to show re­spect for the peo­ple who died,” he said.

He said he called Ra­dio Free­dom, his favourite sta­tion in Re­union, and the po­lice af­ter he found the wing part.

And within hours the world came to the re­al­iza­tion that the air­craft de­bris on the des­o­late beach on the is­land of Re­union was pos­si­bly from Flight 370.

“I was walk­ing on the beach, look­ing for stones that are used to grind spices,” said Begue. “And there it was. It was very big, you couldn’t miss it.”

Begue is still get­ting used to the sig­nif­i­cance of the find.

“At first we didn’t know what it was. But now I un­der­stand. I am proud that Re­union is known for this big event.”

AP PHOTO

French po­lice of­fi­cers carry a piece of de­bris from a plane in Saint-An­dre, Re­union Is­land, Wed­nes­day. Air safety in­ves­ti­ga­tors, one of them a Boe­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tor, have iden­ti­fied the com­po­nent as a “flap­eron” from the trail­ing edge of a Boe­ing 777 wing, a U.S. of­fi­cial said, sim­i­lar to flight MH370, which went miss­ing last year.

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