Malaysia has sent a team to the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion to determine whether debris which washed up there is from missing flight MH370.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board vanished without trace in March 2014.
Aviation experts have said the debris looks like a wing component from a 777, known as a flaperon.
Malaysia Airlines said it would be “premature” to speculate on its origin.
There were 227 passengers on the flight, including 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.
“Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can further confirm whether it belongs to MH370,” Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters in New York where he was attending a UN Security Council debate for aseparate Malaysian jet shot down over Ukraine.
“So we have dispatched a team to investigate on this issues and we hope that we can identify it as soon as possible,” he said.
The wife of the in-flight supervisor for the missing MH370 plane, Jacquita Gonzales, told the BBC that she is 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, no, no’ because there is still hope,” she told the BBC by phone.
The two-metre-long (6ft) piece of wreckage washed up on the island, about 600km (370 miles) east of Madagascar, late on Wednesday.
The search efforts for MH370, led by Australia, are focussed on a broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean – some 6,000km to the east of Reunion, which is a French region.
There have been other plane crashes much closer to Reunion, but flight MH370 is the only Boeing 777 to have disappeared in the area.
An US official told the Associated Press news agency that, based on the photos, investigators had a “high degree of confidence” that the part was a flaperon unique to a Boeing 777 wing.
A flaperon is a part of the wing used to manage the lift and control the roll of an aircraft.
French authorities in Reunion are also investigating the debris and Australian investigators are reported to be in touch with manufacturers over the find.
In a statement, Australian Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss said that if the wreckage was identified as being from MH370, this “would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean”.
Any new evidence will be used to refine search efforts, the statement added. BBC