Malaysia has sent a team to verify whether plane debris washed up on an Indian Ocean island could be part of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
"I have sent a team to verify the wreckage," Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters in New York, after a UN Security Council debate on the Malaysian Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine.
The washing up of the plane debris on the French island of La Reunion has sparked speculation that it could be part of the missing aircraft.
"Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can further confirm whether it belongs to MH370," Liow said.
The two-metre long piece of wreckage, which seemed to be part of a wing, was found by people cleaning up a beach.
French air transport officials have opened an investigation into where the wreckage came from.
MH370 vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers on board in March last year.
Two New Zealanders were on board, including Paul Weeks. His sister Sara says she "felt sick" after hearing today's news.
"That sinking feeling of maybe they've found something, which takes away all those hope that everyone's had all this time."
She says her family is far from closure, and even if the wreckage is proved to be from MH370, there will still be many questions unanswered.
"What happened to the flight? Why did no one know where it went? Why do we still not know where it is? Where is it? Where are the passengers? Are we going to be able to bring them home? Things like that."
La Reunion is located thousands of kilometres away from MH370's last known location.
There is speculation the wreckage could be from Yemenia flight 626, which went down near Madagascar in 2009, killing 152. That plane was an Airbus A310-324.
Former military pilot Xavier Tytelman told the Paul Henry programme the debris appears to have been in the water for around a year, and everything points to it coming from an airliner.
"The only one that fits is a Boeing 777. It's the rear part of the wing – it's not only the shape that fits; [it's also] the connections, the holes."
He said there is a code number on the wreckage, BB670, and Boeing should be able to give an indication if it is related to MH370.
"If it's the right… number, they already know. Maybe they will wait a couple of days just to check if it's the good material, if it's the good aluminium or something like that – just to check if it's the right piece of the plane."
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says they are aware of the situation.
"In the event that the wreckage is identified as being from MH370… it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean," he says.
"Any new evidence will be used to further inform and refine ongoing search efforts."
Malaysia officials are expected to make a statement on the matter later today.
3 News / AFP