Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters late last week that debris found in the Maldives will be sent to Malaysia for analysis to determine if it belongs to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Malaysia is interested in debris found on the Indian Ocean archipelago, after part of an aircraft wing was found last month on Reunion Island.
Malaysia says the wing part found on Reunion, known as a flaperon, has been conclusively confirmed to be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people on board.
But French authorities overseeing the analysis of the object say that although there is strong evidence to support that belief, they need to do more tests to be absolutely sure.
Liow added that it was still too early to say if the most recently found debris was from MH370.
Verification by the Malaysian team should not take long, he said, adding updates would be provided as soon as the investigation was completed.
“Malaysia, Australia and China were also committed to continuing with the search for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean,” Liow said.
The Boeing 777 was traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 cabin crew on board. It vanished without a trace in March 2014. The disappearance of the plane has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.
The Search Strategy Working Group, headed by Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan, is analysing all data - including information on all debris found - to help locate the plane, he said.
“We hope to find the black box and the main frame of the plane as soon as possible,” he said.
Maldives outside range of debris, Australian models suggest
Models created by Australia, which is in charge of the underwater search for the wreckage of MH370, show that debris from the plane wouldn't have made it as far north as the Maldives.
Australian officials say Reunion is within the range of where pieces from the missing plane could have drifted over the months from the remote area of the southeastern Indian Ocean where the aircraft is believed to have gone down.
However, the Maldives - located off the southern tip of India - are in a different part of the ocean. The archipelago is thousands of kilometers northwest of the area that Australia is investigating.
Russia rejects MH17 crash tribunal proposal
Regarding another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine, Liow said early discussions were being carried out among Belgium, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Australia and Malaysia to go ahead with a “Plan B” to achieve justice for those killed onboard the downed flight.
“We felt sad when Russia rejected the proposal for the setting up of an international tribunal through a veto vote, but we are working on an alternative.”
“We will either form a multi-state court or bring this matter to the International Criminal Court,” he said.
All 298 people onboard the plane were killed when it blew up over eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year.
Russia was the only country among the 15-member United Nations Security Council to object to a proposed tribunal over the incident.