Paris/Kuala Lumpur, July 30 (IANS) The discovery of wreckage on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion has made authorities suspect it might be a part of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 that mysteriously disappeared in March 2014, media reports said on Thursday.
MH370, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people onboard — 227 passengers and 12 crew members — vanished on March 8, 2014, the first and the only Boeing 777 to have disappeared over an ocean.
According to aviation experts, the wreckage found on Reunion, a French territory about 600 km east of Madagascar, on Wednesday does resemble a flaperon — a moving part of the wing surface — from a Boeing 777. Also found was the remains of a battered suitcase.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the findings will be shipped by French authorities to Toulouse for investigation, The Telegraph reported.
“To find out as soon as possible, the debris will be shipped by French authorities to Toulouse,” he 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,” he added.
The piece of suitcase that may have been onboard flight MH370 lay unnoticed on a beach in La Reunion for nearly a day, a witness said.
“The piece of suitcase was here yesterday (Wednesday) but no one really paid any attention to it,” the witness was quoted by the French daily, Le Parisien.
“You can see how a zip from the suitcase is still attached to a piece of rigid fabric,” he said, adding “it’s just surreal, it makes me shudder”.
Earlier on Thursday, Malaysian Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the piece of wreckage was “almost certainly” from a Boeing 777 aircraft.
“The flaperon is similar with that on a Boeing 777 aircraft. It’s almost certain (that it is from a Boeing 777),” the minister told The Malaysian Star daily.
According to a CNN report, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the discovery of the wreckage was “a very significant development” in the search to locate the ill-fated flight.
Truss said there was a number — BB670 — on the wreckage that may help investigators in the identification process. He said it wasn’t a serial or registration number but could be a maintenance number.
Australia is leading the underwater search for the remains of Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean, some 3,700 km east of Reunion.
Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of the in-flight supervisor for the missing plane, told 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 because there is still hope,” she said.