ST. ANDRE, Reunion Island — The trash washing up on this paradise island’s beaches is suddenly far from typical.
Bottles and bits of plastic — a familiar foe to beach cleaners — on the shores of Reunion were being eyed as evidence in the hunt for clues on the fate of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Beach cleaners scouring the sands have been handing their finds over to local police, wary that one man’s trash could be a treasure-trove of information.
The increased scrutiny on Reunion’s beaches comes amid mounting suspicion that a barnacle-covered piece of debris that came ashore was from the missing jetliner. A number on the debris confirms it came from a Boeing 777 — and MH370 is the only missing such model in the world.
Johnny Begue was among the dozens scouring the shoreline and sifting through scraps of machinery, rubber and more.
He and his colleagues made that initial discovery of the Boeing 777 part on Wednesday — and have been searching for more signs of the plane ever since. Begue later found a suitcase — origins unclear — and on Thursday he found an empty bottle of Chinese mineral water and turned it over to police. The majority of MH370’s passengers were Chinese.
Begue told NBC News he knows that much of what he finds on the beach is unlikely to be linked — but that doesn’t mean he should stop searching.
As Begue and his crew continued to comb the sand and rocks, helicopters circled overhead. Elsewhere on the island that initial bit of debris — the plane fragment — was being prepared to travel to France where investigators will seek to establish its true identity.
In the meantime, the families of the victims continued to wait for news. Relatives in China received a text from Malaysian Airlines informing them of a meeting in Beijing on Aug. 7.