SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — An American adventurer said Saturday that it would be a “very lucky discovery” if the piece of aircraft he found on a sandbank off the coast of Mozambique is confirmed to be from the Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished two years ago.
Blaine Gibson flew to Malaysia to attend a commemorative event to be held Sunday by families of the 239 people who were on board Flight 370 to mark the second anniversary of the plane’s disappearance.
Speaking to The Associated Press upon his arrival at the airport outside of Kuala Lumpur, Gibson said that he had wanted no publicity about his Feb. 27 discovery until after the piece was assessed by investigators, but that news of the finding leaked.
The 58-year-old lawyer from Seattle said he was cautious about the possibility that the part is from the missing Boeing 777 because three large jets had crashed in the area before.
“I’d say it was a very lucky discovery if it turns out to be from Malaysia 370,” said Gibson, who was wearing a black T-shirt that read “MH370 Search On.”
Even if the piece does not turn out to be from the jet that disappeared on March 8, 2014, Gibson said his discovery could still be useful, perhaps providing clues to another air disaster or raising the public’s awareness that the mystery of Flight 370 still has not been solved.
Gibson said he hopes that his finding will encourage more people in the area to comb beaches to look for clues and that they will hand over any items they think could be possible passenger belongings or plane debris to authorities to be assessed.
He said that he didn’t travel to Mozambique specifically to search for the plane, but that he loves traveling and picked the country because he had never been there before.
Gibson arrived in Mozambique on Feb. 20 and went to the sandbank a week later. He said the sandbank was suggested by a local tour guide because it was where fishermen would go to scour for ropes and other items that are washed in from the open sea.
Gibson said half an hour after they started walking on the sandbank, the tour guide spotted the piece lying on top of the sand and quickly called him over.
“The odds are very, very small” of finding plane debris, Gibson said, adding that he has “combed a lot of beaches in the world and found absolutely nothing.”
“I did not bring this public and wanted this to stay quiet until it was in the hands of investigators and they were able to make a determination, but the story got ahead of itself,” he said.
Gibson said he started actively searching for the plane in the past year, taking him to beaches in the Maldives, Mauritius, Cambodia, Myanmar and the French island of Reunion.
He said that he attended a service in Malaysia last year on the first anniversary of the plane’s disappearance, and that his trip back here for the second anniversary was planned before his discovery of the plane part in Mozambique.