Poignant evidence from MH370 tragedy ‘ignored’

 

A handbag carried on board the missing MH370 plane by a female passenger has been identified as likely to be the same one discovered entangled with a piece of the plane's wrecked wing, which washed ashore on Reunion Island.

Johnny Begue, a member of a local shore cleaning association, on Reunion Island with the bag that has been linked to a female passenger from MH370. Picture: AFP
Johnny Begue, a member of a local shore cleaning association, on Reunion Island with the bag that has been linked to a female passenger from MH370. Picture: AFP

The badly damaged, but still very distinctive handbag, is believed to belong to a woman passenger known to have been seated over the wing of the ill-fated flight.

The woman's family, who have viewed video of passengers including their relative, going through security just before they boarded the plane, have confirmed she is carrying what looks like the same handbag as cabin luggage.

The family has declined to reveal their identity publicly.

The identification comes amid revelations hundreds of personal items including cabin baggage and an expensive set of dentures potentially from MH370 passengers, have washed ashore on some of the same beaches as pieces of the plane.

But a peak support group of air crash victims' families say authorities have dismissed the discoveries.

A number of personal items have been found in Madagascar by MH370 hunter Blaine Gibson.
A number of personal items have been found in Madagascar by MH370 hunter Blaine Gibson.

 

Bags found in Madagascar may be from the lost plane.
Bags found in Madagascar may be from the lost plane.

Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas, who has followed the MH370 case extensively, said every avenue should be followed up to find the truth about the tragic jigsaw puzzle.

He said Malaysia's lack of interest in potential MH370 debris was "deeply troubling" when the country should be supporting and funding such efforts and there is a no find-no fee offer on the table to find the plane.

"History has shown that the smallest, most inconsequential piece of debris can lead to the discovery of what went wrong," he said.

Mr Thomas's comments come as News Corp exclusively revealed yesterday, the search for MH370 was to be resume.

An explosive Sky News two-part documentary, to air on February 19 and 20, is set to unravel previous searches and reveal the clues that were missed that could now lead to resolution.

Sheryl Keen with a slipper believed to have come from the doomed flight. Picture: Ross Swanborough
Sheryl Keen with a slipper believed to have come from the doomed flight. Picture: Ross Swanborough

MH370 disappeared off radar on March 8, 2014 with 239 people including six Australians on-board just 40 minutes into a flight from Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Despite a four year $200 million search the aircraft's final resting place has never been established.

Sheryl Keen chairwoman of the Air crash Support Group Australia (ASGA) said attempts to have the personal effects including the dentures examined, to determine their origins, have stalled.

Ms Keen published an open letter to investigation teams in Malaysia and Australia and France from the MH370 families group, Voice 370, saying it was "distressing" Malaysia had dismissed the discoveries as "not relevant" without even a preliminary examination.

"The families are tired of being dealt with as a non-actor, an afterthought and worse as an irritant," the letter said.

After the discovery of the dentures, Ms Keen approached experts at the University of Western Australia to help to identify their origin, but was told her request had been directed to the WA Coroner's Office, which was "involved in processing information from MH370".

Ms Keen said after an initial email from the WA Coroner's office eight months ago saying the acting Coroner was "looking into the best way to progress this," she has not heard back.

Inquiries made by News Corp, were stonewalled with the Manager Listings, Dawn Wright from the Coroner's office saying: "I can advise the Court does not provide publicly any information regarding investigations."

Ms Keen said it is disappointing.

"I don't know if it is a lack of resources or authority. Or if it is a lack of interest - I wouldn't like to think so."

The missing Malaysian Airlines plane pictured in 2011. File picture
The missing Malaysian Airlines plane pictured in 2011. File picture

French investigators retrieved the handbag from Reunion Island at the same time as they retrieved the flaperon.

Ms Keen said they indicated in the media that they would be conducting DNA testing on the bag.

"I followed up with emails providing photos of who we believe the bag belongs to and ask they contact ASGA so we could share the information we have," she said.

"We are still waiting to hear back."

She had already taken another bag which was found, to a private lab in WA for testing.

The scientists found a strand of hair still in the bag, but they were unable to extract any DNA.

But Ms Keen said it is still possible to find DNA on some of the other items.

She said her group's investigations included comparing the recovered personal effects with the boarding video taken of the passengers of flight MH370.

They have identified four potential matches. One is a green light-weight duffel bag with a Chinese travel agent's logo on it.

In the video one of the Chinese passengers, known to be from the same area as the travel agent, is a carrying what looks like the same bag.

Blaine Gibson has made it a personal mission to find debris from MH370. Picture: Facebook
Blaine Gibson has made it a personal mission to find debris from MH370. Picture: Facebook

The items were found by plane wreck hunter Blaine Gibson on the same beaches as debris from the MH370 had washed up.

Up to 100 cabin sized bags, plus shoes and other items all badly damaged in the same way washed up together. Mr Gibson said they may not be from the MH370 but some strange event had occurred.

Mr Gibson revisited the same beaches a year after they were found, to see if any similar had occurred. But he found nothing.

"What are the chances that a handbag the same size and colour and distinctive pattern washes up entangled with a piece of the missing aircraft?" said Ms Keen.

Possible MH370 debris washed up on Riake beach, Madagascar. Picture: Marc Russo Photography
Possible MH370 debris washed up on Riake beach, Madagascar. Picture: Marc Russo Photography

Mr Gibson said he was hoping to find some personal effects like an ID card, cell phone or USB.

"Every time I picked up a handbag I hoped I would find something inside. But nothing," he said.

Mr Gibson, photographed every item and catalogued them and sent them to Ms Keen to investigate and contact families.

Ms Keen said the families deserved an investigation.

"Even though it might not help solve the mystery - I know from personal experience, for the next of kin those items are all you have left."

 

 

Experts say the items should be investigated. Pictures: Facebook
Experts say the items should be investigated. Pictures: Facebook
The items found in Madagascar include footwear. Picture: Marc Russo Photography
The items found in Madagascar include footwear. Picture: Marc Russo Photography


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