MH370 search: Reunion debris 'very likely' part of plane

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Media captionJohnny Begue showed the BBC's Milton Nkosi where he found the plane debris

Debris found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion is "very likely" to be from the missing flight MH370, a top Australian official has told the BBC.

Martin Dolan, who heads Australia's search efforts, also said the operation was continuing "in the right place" in the southern part of the ocean.

The wreckage, said to be a wing part, is to be flown to France for analysis.

The Malaysia Airlines flight - a Boeing 777 travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing - vanished in March 2014.

There were 239 passengers and crew on board the plane when it went missing.

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The debris washed up on Reunion island on Wednesday, some 4,000km (2,500 miles) from the area where MH370 is thought to have gone down.

Mr Dolan, who heads the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, told the BBC that he was "increasingly confident that the wreckage... is associated with a 777 aircraft".

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Media captionMartin Dolan of the Australian transport safety bureau: "Very likely that it is associated with MH370"

Aviation experts who have studied photos of the debris say it resembles a flaperon - a moving part of the wing surface - from a Boeing 777.

"There is no other recorded case of a flaperon being lost from a Boeing 777," Mr Dolan said.

"We are confident we have the quality of the search to cover that area and find the missing aircraft," he added.

However, Mr Dolan also said the discovery of debris would not help pinpoint where the plane went down.

"Over the last 16 or 17 months, any floating debris would have dispersed quite markedly across the Indian Ocean," he told the AFP news agency.

Guided by signals from the plane that were detected by satellite, authorities believe it went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

However, no physical evidence of this has ever been found and in January Malaysian authorities declared that all on board were presumed dead.

Location of a flaperon on a Boeing 777

Earlier, Australian officials and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the location of the debris was consistent with drift analysis provided to investigators.

The wreckage is expected to arrive in Paris early on Saturday and then be taken to a special facility in the city of Toulouse. French media quote officials as saying it will be examined by experts next week.

The BBC's Chris Bockman in Toulouse says aviation authorities have a huge hangar facility to store and study wreckage - as they did with the Air France airliner that crashed on its way from Brazil to Paris in 2009.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says the object may have a data tag with a serial number that could be directly traceable to MH370. Even if there is no tag, it should have a traceable manufacturer's stamp, he adds.

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Media captionHow could MH370 wreckage have reached Reunion? Richard Westcott explains

Simulation of where debris in search area could end up

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