‘Suitcase found’ near possible MH370 debris

Reports are emerging that the damaged remnants of a suitcase have been found washed ashore on the same Indian Ocean island where debris that may be from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was discovered.

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SBS is trying to verify the reports. 

Less than a day after a two-metre long object that aviation experts say is likely a wing flap from a Boeing 777 was found on the island of Reunion, a photo has emerged of a man holding the tattered remains of a bag.

French language website Linfo.re has reported that a gardener found the bag near where the debris was discovered.

There has been no further information linking the bag to MH370, a Boeing 777 that disappeared on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board.

Picture of the suitcase found this morning at Saint-André ! (credit : @Linfore) #ReunionIsland pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/ZhrS3kQNF2

— Antoine Forestier (@a_forestier) July 30, 2015

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says it’s too early to judge whether the debris is from the flight that disappeared last year with 239 people on board.

But it is being treated as the first major lead.

“A piece of debris could have floated a very, very long way in 16 months,” Mr Truss told reporters in Sydney.

“We do know that it’s credible that wreckage could have reached the area.”

Malaysian transport officials are on their way to the remote island of Reunion, off the east coast of Africa, after the discovery of the large piece that might be a wing flap from a Boeing 777 passenger jet – the same type as MH370.

Mr Truss said the number found on the piece was possibly for maintenance, but “BB670” wasn’t a serial or registration number.

The CSIRO and Institute of Marine Research are working to identify the barnacles on the 2m-long piece, found washed ashore, to determine how long it had been in the ocean.

“(They will) assess whether the barnacles that are evident in those photographs are consistent with something that was floating in the ocean for 16 months or more,” Mr Truss said.

Mr Truss said if the wreckage was identified as being from MH370, it would be consistent with other analysis and modelling that the plane is in the southern Indian Ocean.

MH370 disappeared in March last year, with six Australians among those on board, while travelling from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing.

French and Malaysian authorities will decide how any evidence is handled, as the debris was discovered on French territory.

The families of the Australian victims have told the government they were hoping for closure when contacted with the news.

“Not knowing, not having the opportunity for closure certainly is an enormous burden for the families,” Mr Truss said.

Australian investigators will continue searching the southern part of the Indian Ocean seabed.