JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African teenager may have found part of a wing from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 during a beach vacation in Mozambique, the boy's father said Friday.
Liam Lotter found the piece on Dec. 30 on a beach in southern Mozambique, near the resort town of Xai Xai, his father Casper Lotter said.
The father said he dismissed it as a "piece of rubbish" that was probably debris from a boat, but 18-year-old Liam insisted on bringing it back to South Africa, convinced that it was part of a plane. The curved piece of debris is about 3.3 feet (one meter) long, and about half that length wide, with a five-digit number on it, Casper Lotter said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
"He was adamant he wanted to bring it home because it had a number on it," said Lotter, adding that his son is not an aviation enthusiast but was simply drawn to the piece of debris.
"It just grabbed him for some weird reason," Lotter said.
"We picked it up and I turned it around and it had like a curve to it. You could see where it'd been pop-riveted almost, like there's holes on the side," Liam Lotter told East Coast Radio, a South African station.
The teen's research did not yield much until the family heard about another piece of possible plane debris also found in Mozambique, about 186 miles (300 kilometers) from where Liam Lotter had made his discovery, his father said. Last week, his mother Candace contacted Australian aviation authorities and they said the number on the debris indicates it may belong to a Boeing 777, according to Casper Lotter.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jet vanished with 239 people on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
Australian authorities contacted South African counterparts to arrange to have the part discovered by Liam Lotter taken from his home in the town of Wartburg in KwaZulu-Natal, according to South African officials.
"We have arranged for collection of the part, which will be sent to Australia as they are the ones appointed by Malaysia to identify parts found," Kabelo Ledwaba, spokesman South African Civil Aviation Authority, wrote in a text message to the AP.