MH370 search on Reunion island to end Monday

Sainte-Marie (France) : Active air and sea searches for fragments of doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 off Reunion island will stop on Monday after just over a week, the local authorities said.

Local official Dominique Sorain said that if no objects were found by next Monday “we will move to a phase of heightened surveillance”. “No object has been found in the sea that could belong to an airplane,” Sorain said on Friday, adding however that “a certain amount of debris” had been found on land.

This has been handed over to investigators but there is nothing the size of the Boeing 777 wing part found on Reunion last month that Malaysian authorities have said comes from MH 370. The searches, which began last Friday, have covered nearly 10,000 square kilometres (almost 3,900 square miles) of ocean, Sorain said.

Police have spent 200 hours searching for debris, added Sorain, who gave no indication of the mission’s cost. The tiny Indian Ocean island of Reunion has been in the global media spotlight since the large wing part called a flaperon was discovered on its shores last month.

On August 5, Malaysia’s prime minister said experts had “conclusively confirmed” that the debris came from the doomed flight, which disappeared mysteriously 17 months ago. However, French investigators were more cautious, saying only there was a “very high probability” that the flaperon came from plane, sparking anger from relatives over the difference in language.