Last updated: 11:09 AM ET, Fri July 31 2015

Investigators, Curious Public Scour Beach For MH370 Debris

Impacting Travel | Malaysia Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | July 31, 2015

Investigators, Curious Public Scour Beach For MH370 Debris

Photo via Twitter

As investigators pore over the flaperon piece of a Boeing 777 to determine if it belongs to the missing MH370 flight that disappeared almost 17 months ago, officials and a curious public alike are combing Reunion Beach off the coast of western Africa for more possible debris.

The same man who on Wednesday found the piece of wing that investigators are now examining also found a suitcase washed up on shore. In addition, according to the London newspaper The Independent, Chinese-branded water bottles and cleaning products from Indonesia have also been found. The majority of passengers on board the ill-fated flight were Chinese. However, there is no indication the bottles came from MH370.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, whose country has led the search efforts for the vanished jet for more than a year, said Thursday the piece of wreckage is “a very significant development,” and a “major lead,” even though the discovery came at Reunion Island, a French territory 380 miles from the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean and 2,300 miles from where the search team has concentrated its efforts.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the debris is "very likely" from a Boeing 777 – the same model as Flight MH370. In fact, a maintenance number found on the flaperon matches a Boeing 777 part. Whether it matches a part from the missing flight remains to be seen.

The flight disappeared in March of 2014 without a trace. It originally was scheduled from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, made an abrupt U-turn, and hasn’t been heard from since.

Officials believe it crashed into the ocean but not a single piece of debris had been found.

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