Malaysian experts in Maldives probe possible MH370 link

Local ecological association members and volunteers carry debris found on August 11, 2015 in the eastern part of Sainte-Suzanne, on France's Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, during search operations for the missing MH370 flight conducted by French army forces and local associations.

COLOMBO - Three Malaysian aviation experts began examining debris on Wednesday found in the Maldives to determine if it could be wreckage from flight MH370, a minister said.

The Maldives joined a regional search for wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight after islanders spotted unidentified debris washed up along the northern atolls of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Mohamed Shareef said the three, led by director general of civil aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, met with local authorities and inspected the debris after arriving on the honeymoons islands on Tuesday night.

"They have today officially started investigating the debris found in the Maldives," Shareef, a minister attached to the president's office, told AFP by telephone from the capital island Male.

He said the experts will return to Malaysia later Wednesday before reporting to their Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

The plane was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it disappeared in March 2014 after inexplicably veering off course. It is believed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean region.

The search acquired fresh impetus when Malaysia last week said a wing part that washed ashore on the French island of Reunion came from the aircraft.

After that discovery, the Malaysian authorities alerted nearby Madagascar and South Africa to be on the lookout, saying it was possible debris would wash up in those locations.

Mauritius has also joined the search.

Reunion is some 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometres) southwest of the Maldives, and local media said some of the large objects washed up on the islands appeared to be debris from a barge that capsized in February.