Police on the island of Réunion are examining what appears to be a piece from an aircraft found washed ashore, amid speculation that it could be wreckage from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
The piece of debris, which appears to be part of an aircraft wing, was discovered on the French Indian Ocean island on Wednesday.
The Boeing 777 disappeared on 8 March 2014 travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
An international search operation found no physical clues, but an ongoing search has been focusing on the southern Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia, based on faint signals picked up by satellite after the plane went missing.
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A French aviation specialist, Xavier Tytelman, who was sent the photos by a contact on Réunion has highlighted the similarity of the debris to the flaperon – part of the wing – on a 777 plane, but other experts have expressed doubt whether the part is large enough to have come from a wide-body passenger airliner.
While searches for debris on the Australian coastline have proved fruitless, onlinemodelling from the University of New South Wales suggests oceanic currents could in 15 months carry wreckage from the MH370 search zone as far as Réunion, off the eastern coast of Africa.
The two-metre-long part had a reference number, which should help investigators quickly conclude whether there is a possible link.
Malaysian authorities in January declared that all aboard were presumed dead. An Australian-led team has been conducting an underwater search of a 120,000 km squared zone in the Indian Ocean for over 500 days.
Boeing said it remained “committed to supporting the MH370 investigation and the search for the airplane”.