[KUALA LUMPUR] Plane wreckage found on an Indian Ocean island is "very likely to be from a Boeing 777", Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Thursday, as speculation mounted that it could be debris from missing flight MH370.
"Initial reports suggest that the debris is very likely to be from a Boeing 777, but we need to verify whether it is from flight MH370," Mr Najib said in a statement on his Facebook page.
The debris found on the French island of La Reunion has fuelled hopes of finally determining the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, a Boeing 777 that disappeared 16 months ago with 239 people aboard.
Mr Najib did not specify what reports he was referring to, but Malaysian officials said earlier in the day that analysis of photographs of the object indicated it was a wing component from a Boeing 777 known as a flaperon.
Mr Najib said the object would be shipped by French authorities to the city of Toulouse to be examined by the BEA, France's civil aviation authority, for verification.
Senior officials from Malaysian transport agencies and the airline would also travel to Toulouse, he said.
"As soon as we have more information or any verification we will make it public," Mr Najib said, while warning against premature speculation.
"We have had many false alarms before, but for the sake of the families who have lost loved ones, and suffered such heartbreaking uncertainty, I pray that we will find out the truth so that they may have closure and peace."
Mr Najib added that finding debris on La Reunion - about 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) from the Indian Ocean zone where authorities believe the plane went down - was plausible.
"The location is consistent with the drift analysis provided to the Malaysian investigation team, which showed a route from the southern Indian Ocean to Africa," he said.
He added: "I promise the families of those lost that whatever happens, we will not give up." Flight MH370 was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it mysteriously turned off its route and vanished on March 8 last year.