From Twitter

Suitcase found near suspected MH370 plane debris

THE remains of a badly burned suitcase have reportedly washed up near the site of the plane debris which has been discovered on Reunion Island. 


Journalist Julien Delarue, who works for local paper Journal de L'île de la Réunion, reported on Twitter that what appears to be a suitcase has been found on the Indian Ocean island, less than a day after islanders discovered a two-metre long piece of debris.


The suitcase and wing flap were said to be found by local beach cleaner Johnny Begue.


Meanwhile shellfish attached to the suspected wreckage of lost flight MH370 has been analysed.

Le Journal de l'ile de la Réunion says the academic Joseph Poupin of the Naval School of Brest, France, said the shellfish belonged to the Lepa Anatifera species, which live in warm and hot waters.

They grow at a rate of 1cm to 2cm per year, he said, and deemed the size of the shellfish shown to him by Le Journal de l'ile de la Réunion to have been growing on the debris for several months or a year.

Meanwhile, a volcanic eruption is "probable and imminent" on Reunion Island, where the plane debris was found.

The island's volcanic observatory has detected a spike in seismic activity at Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world's most active volcanoes.

The area around the volcano has been evacuated and it is unclear how the volcanic eruption will affect the investigation of the wreckage.

Police guard the unidentified plane wreckage.
Police guard the unidentified plane wreckage.

Sébastien Gignoux, a reporter at the Journal de l'île de la Réunion, told NZME News Service this morning the volcanic eruption has begun, but he didn't think it would be a problem for helicopters in the area because "it's not a volcano that smokes a lot".

Malaysian authorities have arrived in the island, he said, and the wreckage would be sent to Toulouse in France on Saturday (local time) for analysis.

Gignoux told the Herald last night from Reunion Island that it felt strange that his small island home had become the subject of the world's media attention in just a few hours.

Every reporter at his French-language daily newspaper was covering the story, he said.

"People are talking a lot about it on radios...Every one has his idea about what it is." (sic)

Gignoux said there were not many people going to the beach to look for more debris as it was a rock beach and not very easy to access.

However there were a lot of journalists starting to arrive on the island, he said.

Police had done a search on foot yesterday morning local-time for more pieces of debris, while an army vessel searched the seaside.

Then on the orders of a judge leading the investigation from Paris, a helicopter fr

om the French paramilitary police (gendarmes or gendarmerie) flew yesterday afternoon above the area to take pictures.

MORE: Plane debris on French island offers family glimmer of hope

Irene and George Burrows
Irene and George Burrows

Foot patrols from police and the gendarmerie would continue from time to time on the coast to see if there was anything else coming, Gignoux said.

At 7am yesterday a man, a member of the group that found the aircraft debris on Wednesday, found something else that looked like a suitcase, he said.

The gendarmerie soon took that piece of evidence as well, he said.

Those who found the aircraft debris were all local men, Gignoux said, and all worked in seaside cleaning for the town of Saint-André.

They worked for an association called "3E" and the chief of their team was a man named Johny Bègue.

The 47-year-old boss was overwhelmed by the media already, Gignoux said.

He had managed to talk with Mr Bègue as he was leaving the police station early yesterday evening, "where he told his story one more time".

He told Gignoux: "I'm happy if my discovery can help victim's families to mourn."

Mr Bègue had been taking a break from work and walking on the beach on Wednesday morning when, at 9am, he saw the debris.

"I realised quickly it was a piece of plane. One of my friend, looking on the internet, said the last crash in the area was the one from Malaysia Airlines," he said.

Gignoux said both the piece of debris and the suitcase were now being held by a special unit of police that deals with air transport matters - "brigade de gendarmerie des transports aériens".

On Wednesday night local time this unit had tried to identify the piece of plane, Gignoux said.

According to several sources - which were not official yet - this piece of debris appeared to be a "flaperon leading edge panel" from a Boeing 777, he said.

The had investigated a technical book, and it seemed to confirm this information, Gignoux said.

Aviation experts certain debris is from a Boeing 777

Speaking to NewstalkZB this morning, aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas said he was certain the debris had come from a Boeing 777.

If that was the case, it "had to be" from MH370, he said.

"There is only one 777 missing, that's MH370, it simply couldn't be from another 777.

"It would be a "major breakthrough" if the debris was from MH370, Mr Thomas said.

"From the families point of view it absolutely proves positive this plane is lost. It can dispel the conspiracy theories that it's in Afghanistan or Russia.

"For the searchers it is a boost that they are looking in the right place, and the University of Western Australia is doing reverse engineering already on their modelling to be able to track back the drift of this particular piece.

"They are going to be able to really zero in on an area where it originated from, and they already suggest it will be from a search area they are already currently looking."

He said "human input" was likely what brought the plane down.

"Whether it's a pilot, or hijacking or terrorists... you just don't know. It is too hard to speculate on that."