Thai air force to examine 'metal chunk' amid MH370 speculation

2016-01-24 14:35
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Bangkok - Thailand's air force said on Sunday it would bring a piece of suspected aircraft debris found on the southeast coast to Bangkok, amid media speculation it may belong to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The metal panel measuring 2mx3m was found by fishermen on Saturday in Nakhon Si Thammarat province in the Gulf of Thailand.

Thai army aviation experts have already inspected the debris and agreed it was likely to be from an aircraft, although more tests are needed for confirmation.

A specialist team will go to Pak Phanang district on Monday to collect the panel.

"It will be brought to Bangkok for further study as it needs special equipment to investigate what kind of aircraft it came from," Royal Thai Air Force spokesperson, Air Vice Marshal Pongsak Semachai, told AFP.

"It does not belong to a Thai air force aircraft," he added.

Thanyarat Phatikongphan, district chief of Pak Phanang, said the piece probably belonged "to an aircraft's nose... because there are electronic wires, insulators on it".

Numbers on the panel should help identification, he added.

Although there was no firm confirmation the piece was part of an aircraft, Thai media swiftly speculated that it may have come from flight MH370.

The Malaysia Airlines plane vanished on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

In July last year a two-metre-long wing part known as a flaperon washed up on a beach on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion. The island is several thousand kilometres southwest of Thailand.

Experts traced the wing part to the ill-fated MH370, the first firm evidence that it met a tragic end.

Unlike Reunion, the Gulf of Thailand is not in the path of ocean currents from the remote area of the Indian Ocean where it is believed the plane went down.

Nothing has been found since the Reunion discovery, despite a search which has so far covered more than 80 000km2 of the seabed.

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