As the second anniversary of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 was marked in a private ceremony by family and friends in Kuala Lumpur on 6 March, the man who found the first confirmed missing part of the plane has found another debris on Reunion Island. Johnny Begue has handed over the debris to the authorities to determine if they belong to the missing Boeing 777.
Begue said that he had found the debris at about 5.30pm local time on 3 March 2016 and handed it over to the gendarmerie the following morning. The gendarmerie's Territorial Air Brigade in Saint Denis, the capital of Reunion, confirmed it has received the item, Associated Press reported.
He said that unlike the flaperon which was found on 29 July 2015, there were no barnacles on the latest item. The debris was square and estimated to measure around 40cm by 40cm (15.5 inches by 15.5 inches) he said.
"I was running. After, when I stopped to rest, that's when I found the piece lying on the stony beach several meters from the water,"Begue said. "The same beach and nearly the same place," he said, referring to the flaperon he had found on the island a year ago.
He said that the second debris was thinner and smaller than the flaperon but the material had the same appearance with a honeycombed interior. It was a square-shaped grey debris with blue border in nearly the same spot as where the flaperon was found.
Malaysia Airline flight MH370 disappeared with 239 passengers and crew on board on 8 March, 2014. It was on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing.
The flaperon that was found by Begue was confirmed to be a part of the flight but no other debris has so far been confirmed as belonging to the airline. A part was found off Mozambique recently and is currently being examined by the relevant authorities whether it was part of the missing aircraft.
Michael Masseaux, an official in prefecture or the French state body, said that the part handed by Begue would normally be handled by the gendarmerie before it is sent to mainland France for further investigation if necessary.
Surprisingly, just as the second anniversary of the missing aircraft draws closer, more debris suspected to be from an aircraft have been spotted. American Blaine Gibson found an airplane part off Mozambique last week. Malaysia believes that the debris belongs to a Boeing 777, and given that there has been no missing Boeing 777 on record, the general belief is that it belongs to the Malaysian Aircraft plane.
Begue told AFP that he has been combing the island's shores since he found the flaperon. "When there's bad weather is when you should look, when the sea tosses up a lot of stuff," he said.
Separately, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai reminded the next-of-kin of those on board the missing aircraft that they only have a limited time to file for compensation. He said their right to compensation will expire on 8 March 2016.
"I urge all the families and next-of-kin, regardless of nationality to file their claims by March 8 2016," the minister said in a statement. He said this was in accordance with the multilateral treaty, the Montreal Convention that entered into force in Malaysia in February 2008.
He said that so a total of 169 families have initiated final compensation claims, according to Malaysia Airlines. He said that less than 60 compensation claims have been settled so far.
A team of investigations looking into the missing flight MH370 are expected to issue a statement on 8 March, The search of the seafloor in the remote Indian Ocean by the Australian-led team is expected to end middle of this year when the targeted area has been combed through.
All parties to the search have already said that unless new clues turn up, the search is likely to be abandoned as it will no longer be cost-effective to continue with the search. The families of those on the missing plane however have urged last week for the authorities to continue with their search and have begged other countries and even companies affected, like Boeing to help fund the search. So far, only Malaysia, Australia and China are reported to be funding the search efforts.