Australia's transportation chief said on Thursday the location of debris found on a beach in the southeast African nation of Mozambique was consistent with drift modelling related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
The chunk of debris was discovered by a US citizen carrying out an independent search for missing MH370’s debris earlier this week.
"The location of the debris is consistent with drift modelling commissioned by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and reaffirms the search area for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean," Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said in a statement. However, he told parliament that it was “still too early to speculate on the origin of the debris.”
The metre-long piece of metal has now been sent to Australia, where Australian and Malaysian officials will examine it. Earlier, Chester told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that the Mozambique government has taken possession of the debris.
The Australian minister also ensured that the Australian government was working systematically and intensively to locate the aircraft, together with its search partners, Malaysia and China.
“Through our collective efforts, we hope to locate the aircraft and give some comfort to the family and friends of those on board and help us understand what happened to flight MH370,” Chester said but noted that the hard work might not work to find out what happened to the aircraft.
“Regrettably the aircraft may never be found and we may never know what happened,” he said.
Chester’s comments came shortly after Malaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong made comments that gave hope to the victims' families. Tiong stated on Wednesday that the possibility of the metal chunk belonging to a 777 jet, the same type of aircraft as MH370 was “high”.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry “noted” the report about the new possible piece of debris.
"We will closely track the development of the situation, and maintain close contact with relevant sides. We will also work with relevant countries to make great efforts to continue the search work for MH370," he told reporters in Beijing.
Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.
The crash is believed to have occurred in the Indian Ocean and an initial search of a 60,000 sq km (23,000 sq miles) area of sea floor has been extended to another 60,000 sq km.
In July 2015, a piece of a plane’s wing was found on the beach of the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, on the other side of Madagascar.
The debris will be the first to be analysed by MH370 crash investigators as another object suspected to be part the plane's wing has been held by French authorities since being found on Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean, last year.
The ATSB and the international agency set up in Australia to coordinate the search for the missing plane, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, were not immediately available for comment.
Multiple media reports said the debris was found by Seattle lawyer Blaine Alan Gibson, who has been conducting his own investigation into the missing plane. Gibson did not respond to inquiries made by Reuters via his website and social media.