Investigators are on their way to Reunion Island off the coast of Africa to analyse a piece of aircraft debris that could be from missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.
The piece of debris, which measures about two metres long and appears to be part of an aircraft wing, was spotted on a beach on Reunion Island on Thursday (Australian time).
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss confirmed the Australian government was aware of the discovery and said it was being examined by experts to determine its origin.
Truss said Malaysia was responsible for the investigation, adding that Boeing, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile (BEA), the US National Transportation Safety Bureau and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) were assisting the examination.
“In the event that the wreckage is identified as being from MH 370 on La Reunion Island, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean,” a statement from the Minister’s office released on Thursday said.
“Any new evidence will be used to further inform and refine ongoing search efforts.”
MAS said in a statement it was working with the relevant authorities to “confirm the matter”.
“At the moment, it would be too premature for the airline to speculate the origin of the object,” MAS said on Thursday.
Malaysia Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai confirmed a delegation from his country was headed to Reunion Island to investigate the debris.
“I have sent a team to verify the wreckage,” Liow told reporters at the United Nations in New York according to the Reuters news agency.
“We hope that we can identify it as soon as possible.”
MAS flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 2014 enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The aircraft is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean off the West Australian coast after it changed course and flew back over the Malaysian mainland, according to analysis of satellite tracking data.
The international search effort led by the ATSB has combed more than 55,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean and found no sign of the missing Boeing 777-200ER 9M-MRO. The search area was expanded earlier in 2015 to 120,000 square kilometres.