Malaysia has said that it would be “premature” to speculate on whether debris washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion comes from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
A two-metre long piece of wreckage was found on Wednesday.
Malaysia’s Deputy Transport Minister, Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, said it was “almost certain” that the wreckage was from a Boeing 777 aircraft.
MH370 is the only Boeing 777 to have disappeared over an ocean.
There were 239 people on board the plane when it disappeared in March 2014.
A policeman and a gendarme stand next to a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015
Policemen and gendarmes stand next to a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015.
Aviation experts who have studied photos of the debris found on Reunion say it does resemble a flaperon – a moving part of the wing surface – from a Boeing 777.
The wife of the in-flight supervisor for the missing MH370 plane, Jacquita Gonzales, told the BBC that she was “torn” by the news.
“A part of me hopes that it is [MH370] so that I could have some closure and bury my husband properly but the other part of me says ‘no, no, no’ because there is still hope,” she told the BBC by phone.
Reunion, a French territory, is about 600km (370 miles) east of Madagascar.
The search efforts for MH370, led by Australia, are focused on a broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean – some 6,000km to the east of Reunion.
Australia’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss has said there is a distinctive marking on the piece of debris found on Reunion Island.
He said the number on the part, BB670, could be a maintenance number, but is not a serial number.
Australian scientists were “looking at the photographs to see whether the barnacles on the wreckage reflect the amount of time that it would’ve been in the water”, he said.
“Clearly if this is wreckage from MH370 it’s an important breakthrough, particularly for families,” Mr Truss added.