France has launched a hunt for more wreckage from the ill-fated MH370 plane off Reunion Island in a fresh effort to shed light on one of aviation's biggest mysteries.
The tiny French Indian Ocean territory has been under intense scrutiny since a beach cleaner found a washed-up wing part last week, which Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak later declared was part of the Boeing 777 that mysteriously vanished 17 months ago.
The flaperon is being examined by experts in southern France for possible clues as to why the Malaysia Airlines aircraft inexplicably veered off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and there are hopes that Reunion may yield more washed-up debris.
Authorities in nearby Mauritius are also searching for any possible plane parts that may have landed on their shores.
Aline Simon, a French officer, said a military transport plane had taken off from a base in the north of Reunion Island to search for debris off the coast.
The hunt for potential plane parts will also involve foot patrols, helicopters and maritime units, the government said in a statement late on Thursday (local time).
Since the discovery of the two-metre-long flaperon last week, people on the island have come forward with countless objects they think may look like plane parts – all false alarms.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said on Thursday that more possible MH370 objects – aircraft seat cushions and windows – had been discovered on Reunion Island, but that any MH370 link "had to be verified by the French authorities".
A French judicial source however said French investigators had not received any new items.