CURRENTS

How a piece of flight MH370 may have washed up on a beach in Mozambique

The piece of metal found on a beach in Mozambique.
The piece of metal found on a beach in Mozambique.
Image: EPA/ATSB/Blaine Gibson
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The largest and most expensive search in aviation history has yielded little information about the mysterious fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014. But ocean currents, given time, can deliver clues that modern expertise cannot. Investigators have tentatively identified an airplane part found washed up in Mozambique as belonging to a Boeing 777, the same type of plane used for MH370, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity to AP yesterday.

If confirmed, it will be the second part positively identified as belonging to the ill-fated aircraft. Last August aviation experts concluded that a wing fragment found on Réunion Island, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, was from the missing plane. That was the first physical trace of MH370, and it was accidentally discovered after months of high-tech searches in completely different areas, including the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea. (The flight left from Kuala Lumpur, and was supposed to go to Beijing.)

Again, slow-moving ocean currents did the work. Authorities have since predicted that the currents would carry more debris from the plane—at least any not trapped in the ocean depths—to the east coast of Africa, where Mozambique is. You can see how the currents flow in this map from Physical Geography and video from NASA (around the 0:45 mark).

Image: Physical Geography

The multinational search for MH370—led by Australia and including China and Malaysia—is tentatively scheduled to end later this year.