, SAINT-ANDRÉ, France, Jul 30 – Aviation investigators headed to the French Indian Ocean island of Le Reunion on Thursday to determine whether a piece of plane wreckage that washed up on its shores is part of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The two-metre (six-foot) long piece of wreckage, which appeared to be part of a wing, was found Wednesday by people cleaning up a beach.
The discovery fuelled hopes in Malaysia and across the globe that one of aviation history’s greatest mysteries could move closer to being solved, but authorities and Malaysia Airlines warned against jumping to conclusions.
French, Malaysian, and Australian authorities have all begun looking into the object’s origin, with Malaysia saying it was sending a team of experts to the island on Thursday.
“Whatever wreckage is found needs to be further verified before we can further confirm whether it belongs to MH370,” Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters in New York, saying he hoped for answers “as soon as possible”.
The country’s Deputy Transport Minister, Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, said the team included experts from Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation and Malaysia Airlines, who would be joined by representatives from Boeing, maker of the 777-200 aircraft.
“We expect in two days we can complete the verification,” Abdul Aziz said.
The plane vanished at night over the South China Sea after mysteriously diverting from its north-bound route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.