Update as of 6:30 a.m. EDT: France launched an operation to look for new debris on the island of Reunion on Friday that could help in the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
The French military has deployed a CASA transport aircraft "to search around the coast of Reunion island," Aline Simon, an officer, told Agence France-Press.
France will launch air and sea search operations around the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean on Friday for “new debris” from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, government officials said Friday. The expansion of the search comes a day after Malaysia’s prime minister confirmed that a wing flap found on the French island was from the missing plane.
French officials reportedly said that an aircraft would survey the area around the island near Madagascar, east of Reunion, starting Friday morning, while foot patrols and search operations by helicopters and maritime units will also be conducted. French, U.S. and Australian officials involved in the investigation have been cautious in announcing the findings from the flaperon that was found last week, only saying that there is a “very high probability” that the debris came from Flight MH370.
"It has been decided, at the request of the president and the prime minister and to respond to the needs of the inquiry, to deploy supplementary air and sea resources to search for the possible presence of new debris around Reunion," French ministers of defense, transport and overseas territories, reportedly said, in a joint statement.
Malaysia, which asked for assistance from France in its search for more debris on Reunion Island, also appealed to the governments of Mauritius, about 140 miles northeast of Reunion, and Madagascar, to help widen the search.
French authorities, meanwhile, have said that they are not aware of objects such as aircraft seat cushions and window panes being found on the island, BBC reported. On Thursday, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai announced that these objects had been sent for examination to French investigators to determine if they belonged to Flight MH370.
While several objects were collected from Reunion Island -- located about 2,300 miles west of the primary search area off the southwestern coast of Australia -- and handed over to local police, none appears to be from the missing Boeing 777-200, a spokesman for Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss, said in a statement Friday, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Liow must explain "the haste and hurry" to declare the wing flap came from Flight MH370, Liew Chin Tong, a Malaysian politician, said in a statement, according to the AP. "A quick conclusion will not do justice to the next of kin of the victims."
Meanwhile, families of those on board the missing plane have expressed anger and frustration over the latest twist in the investigation. Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers Friday demanded to be taken to Reunion Island.
"Our demand is to go to Reunion island and look for ourselves," Hu Xiufang, who had three relatives, including her son, on the plane, said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). "All the relatives want to go there. Malaysia is the country responsible and they should obtain the relevant documents."
"We want to go to the island and see the truth," Lu Zhanzhong told AFP. "I want to see if my son's luggage is there."
Zhang Jianyi, who had a daughter and granddaughter on the plane, reportedly said: "We will all go there together. That's what international agreements require. And Malaysia is the relevant country to arrange it."
Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people, mostly Chinese nationals, on board, while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. An international search operation has been ongoing since its disappearance, with vessels scouring 46,332 square miles of the southern Indian Ocean.