PETALING JAYA - The aircraft flaperon that washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion will be shipped to Toulouse in France where investigators will determine if it was part of Flight MH370.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who said this, added that Toulouse was the nearest office of the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA), the French authority responsible for civil aviation accident investigations.
"A Malaysian team is on the way to Toulouse now. It includes senior representatives from the Transport Ministry, the Department of Civil Aviation, the MH370 investigation team and Malaysia Airlines," the Prime Minister said in a Facebook post yesterday evening.
He said a second Malaysian team was travelling to Reunion.
The discovery of the flaperon yesterday morning hogged the headlines around the world, with breaking news that the piece of debris could end one of aviation's greatest mysteries.
Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 last year while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew.
On March 24 last year, Najib announced that investigators from Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch had concluded that Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
On Jan 30 this year, MH370 was officially declared an accident by the DCA and all 239 passengers and crew presumed dead so the next of kin could seek compensation.
In April, Australia, Malaysia and China agreed to expand the search area in the southern Indian Ocean beyond the original 60,000 sq km to enable up to 120,000 sq km to be searched if required.
In his post, Najib said the location was consistent with the drift analysis provided to the Malaysian investigation team, which showed a route from the southern Indian Ocean to Africa.
Although initial reports suggested that the piece of debris was very likely to be from a Boeing 777 aircraft, Najib said it still needed to be verified to be a part from Flight MH370.
He said it was too early to speculate because there had been too many false alarms.
The Prime Minister gave an assurance that any new information or verification would be made public as soon as it became available, for the sake of the families who lost their loved ones and suffered heartbreak uncertainty.
"I pray that we will find out the truth so that they may have closure and peace.
"I promise the families of those lost that whatever happens, we will not give up," he said.
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said that if the wreckage was identified as being from MH370, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the resting place of the aircraft was in the southern Indian Ocean.
"Any new evidence will be used to further inform and refine ongoing search efforts," he said in a statement.
He said the National Transportation Safety Bureau (US) and Australian Transport Safety Bureau, along with aircraft manufacturer Boeing, will assist Malaysia and BEA to determine the origin of the debris.
Boeing said it remained committed to supporting the MH370 investigation and the search for the missing airplane.