An amateur investigator’s hopes of finding the biggest piece of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 airliner have been dashed after suspected aircraft debris turned out to be a shipwreck.
Mike Chillit – a prominent part-time MH370 sleuth planning his own search mission for the missing aircraft – told The New Daily this week he was hopeful satellite imaging of an object that looked like debris he originally spotted on Google Earth would be confirmed as part of the plane’s wing.
However on Monday morning, Mr Chillit was forced to admit what he thought was MH370 debris was really the wreck of a ship, sitting off Saint Brandon shoals, an archipelago to the east of Madagascar.
“So the bad news today is that there does not appear to be MH370 debris on St Brandon Island,” Mr Chillit wrote on his website.
“But the good news is that I spent my own money to get that education, and it didn’t take three years to accomplish it,” he wrote, taking a dig at the Australian-Malaysian search effort.
MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 with all 239 passengers and crew presumed dead.
The wreckage has not been found.
MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and a joint search effort by Australia and Malaysia has concentrated on the southern Indian Ocean.
A series of small pieces of debris have been found on Madagascar, some nearby islands and on the south and east African coast.
It was these finds that prompted Mr Chillit to scour nearby land masses for further debris.
Here’s what Mr Chillit thought was MH370 debris:
— Mike Chillit (@MikeChillit) December 5, 2016
— Mike Chillit (@MikeChillit) December 13, 2016
Here’s what it really is:
A statistician and historian by trade, Mr Chillit had also been tracking drift patterns in the Indian Ocean, working back from where debris had been found.
According to his calculations, he believes MH370 rests north of the 120,000 square kilometre zone the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has spent more than 1000 days searching.
He assured The New Daily on Sunday that he would notify MH370 next of kin of any confirmed finds before he informed media.
Shoes, bags, slippers ‘from MH370’ turn up
Meanwhile, an Australian woman claims she has found a series of personal items belonging to the doomed passengers aboard MH370.
Sheryl Keen, 52, from Perth, told the Daily Mail she and another MH370 amateur sleuth, Blaine Gibson, found a number of items from the plane.
“What else could it be from?” Ms Keen told the Daily Mail.
“We’re looking at a substantial amount of personal effects which all alike, are all in similar condition, similar deterioration and all found along the same stretch of Riake beach in Madagascar.
“And it’s in an area that an oceanographer said people should go look for things.”
Ms Keen is the chairwoman of Air Crash Support Group Australia having lost her husband to a crash in 2009.
Here are some of her discoveries: