MALAYSIA — Malaysia’s search for the missing plane has found a second piece of debris, the country’s Transport Minister said on Thursday, and authorities believe the jetliner was carrying 239 people.
The finding of the debris is a significant breakthrough in the search for MH370, Malaysia’s Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a press conference, adding the new piece of evidence is not part of the final analysis of the plane’s final resting place in the sea.
“We are able to say now that we have located the second piece that may be part of this aircraft,” he said.
“But we are still waiting for the final results of the investigation and we will continue to search for more evidence.”
On March 8, Malaysian investigators found a piece of the fuselage of the jet that crashed in the southern Indian Ocean off Vietnam’s east coast.
Authorities had initially thought the plane had crashed in water near Vietnam, but it is unclear if that was the case.
On March 11, a search operation began for a large piece of wreckage that is believed to have been part of a plane that disappeared in March 2014, while the search operation for MH 370 has expanded to include the Indian ocean.
In a statement, Malaysia said the new evidence in the hunt for the plane indicates the aircraft was carrying passengers.
It said the piece of plane wreckage found off Vietnam was part of what is believed was part one of the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.
Malaysia said in a statement it was “deeply concerned by the new information that we are now finding that may point to the missing Boeing 777.”
It said Malaysia was continuing to search the Indian seas for the aircraft and would continue to do so until the new debris is found.
The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 began on March 8 when radar signals picked up two objects in the South China Sea.
That led to a multinational team of Australian, Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese and US ships searching the waters off the Vietnamese island of Thitu.
The team eventually found what they were looking for in waters off Vietnam.