Metal Hunk Washes Up, Raises Slim Hope for MH370
Officials caution against speculation, say Thailand unlikely site for wreckage
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 24, 2016 6:59 AM CST
In this March 22, 2014, file photo, flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine scans for the missing Flight MH370 in southern Indian Ocean, Australia.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, Pool)

(Newser) – A large chunk of metal that could be from an aircraft washed ashore in southern Thailand, but Malaysian authorities on Sunday cautioned against speculation of a link to a Malaysia Airlines flight missing almost two years. Flight MH370 is presumed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, and only one piece of debris has been identified as coming from the plane, a slab of wing that washed ashore on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean last July. Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said he instructed Malaysian civil aviation officials to contact Thailand about the newly found wreckage, a curved piece of metal measuring about 6 ½ feet by 10 feet with electrical wires hanging from it and numbers stamped on it in several places. "The markings, engineering, and tooling apparent in this debris strongly suggest that it is aerospace related," an editor with Flightglobal tells Reuters. "It will need to be carefully examined, however, to determine it's exact origin."

Thailand's Transportation Ministry said four Malaysian officials and two Thai experts will visit the site Monday. Liow said the search for the missing jet, which carried 239 people, is ongoing in the southern Indian Ocean. Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman Dan O'Malley said the agency was awaiting an official examination of the debris. The debris was found on the eastern coast of southern Thailand's Nakkon Si Thammarat province, about 370 miles south of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand. While debris can drift thousands of miles on ocean currents, that location would be a surprise based on the data from Flight MH370. The plane was tracked by radar flying over the South China Sea then making a sharp turn west. It crossed the Malay Peninsula and Straits of Malacca, which would put it off Thailand's west coast.