Kuala Lumpur: Wreckage washed up on a remote Indian Ocean island is 'very likely from a Boeing 777', the same model as MH370 that mysteriously vanished over a year ago with 239 people including five Indians on board, and will be sent to France to determine whether it is from the same plane.
"Initial reports suggest that the debris is very likely to be from a Boeing 777, but we need to verify whether it is from flight MH370," Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday. Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi earlier said it was 'almost certain' that the wreckage was from a Boeing 777 aircraft.
The statements come a day after members of a local clean- up association found a 2.7-metres long and 0.9-metre wide flaperon, a wing component, on the French island of La Reunion off the east coast of Africa. Part of a bag with closed zip was found near the debris on Thursday, fuelling speculation it may be from the ill-fated Boeing 777-200 of Malaysia Airlines that went off radars on March 8, 2014, one hour into the flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
Australia, that is leading the search for the plane in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean far off the country's west coast, is treating this as a 'major lead'. "It's the first real evidence that there is a possibility that a part of the aircraft may have been found," said Warren Truss, Australia's Transport and Infrastructure Minister, who also described the sighting of the debris as a 'very important development'.
The latest discovery of the debris could rest all speculation in one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history and finally determine the fate of the people on board. In January, Malaysia declared the disappearance of the plane as an 'accident' and all people on board as presumed dead.
The wreckage would be shipped to Toulouse by French authorities where it will be examined by the BEA, France's civil aviation authority, Najib said. "A Malaysian team is on the way to Toulouse now. It includes senior representatives from the Ministry of Transport, the Department of Civil Aviation, the MH370 investigation team, and Malaysia Airlines.
"To find out as fast as possible, the debris will be shipped by French authorities to Toulouse, site of the nearest office of the BEA, the French authority responsible for civil aviation accident investigations," he said.
A second Malaysian team is travelling to where the debris was found on Reunion, Najib said, adding that the location is "consistent with the drift analysis provided to the Malaysian investigation team, which showed a route from the southern Indian Ocean to Africa".