Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement Thursday that initial reports suggest that the debris found on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean is “very likely” from a Boeing 777, but it is yet to be verified if it was from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Authorities are investigating if the debris is from the missing plane while the families of those on board Flight MH370 wait for the long-awaited answers to the mystery of its disappearance.
“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,” Razak wrote in the statement, on his blog.
Razak also said that a Malaysian team, consisting of representatives from the transport ministry, the Department of Civil Aviation, the MH370 investigation team and Malaysia Airlines, is on its way to Toulouse. Another Malaysian team is headed to the area where the debris was found on Réunion Island, a French territory near Madagascar, in Africa.
The six-foot long piece of wreckage has fuelled hopes that one of aviation's greatest mysteries may finally be solved. The search for Flight MH370, which has become the costliest in aviation history has been ongoing for over a year with no concrete clues as to the whereabouts of the plane that disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
On Thursday, a small, badly damaged suitcase was also found near the wreckage, local media reports said. Local police are reportedly investigating if it also can be linked to the missing Flight MH370.
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Meanwhile, an aviation expert reportedly said that the two codes -- 657-BB and BB670 -- which appear on the debris, may have been placed on it by maintenance workers and the "B" probably stands for Boeing. AirLive.net, an aviation website, reported earlier that one of the codes -- 657-BB -- stamped on the debris was from a Boeing 777 flaperon.
However, Malaysia’s transport ministry urged caution in jumping to conclusions, even as the debris was being treated as "a major lead.”
“The Ministry would like to state that until there is tangible and irrefutable evidence that the flaperon does belong to the missing aircraft, it would be premature to speculate at this juncture. This is to ensure that we do not raise false hope for the loved ones of the victims of MH370," the ministry said, in a statement.
Razak also vowed that authorities would provide regular updates on the investigation while relatives of those on board the missing plane called for a "100 per cent confirmation" that the piece of debris was in fact linked to Flight MH370.
“We have had many false alarms before, but for the sake of the families who have lost loved ones, and suffered such heartbreaking uncertainty, I pray that we will find out the truth so that they may have closure and peace,” Razak said. “I promise the families of those lost that whatever happens, we will not give up.”