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Investigators begin to inspect plane wreckage for clues to MH370 mystery

Debris suspected to come from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight was discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, 29 July 2015
Debris suspected to come from the missing Malaysian Airlines flight was discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, 29 July 2015 Reuters

Australia on Wednesday said there could be confirmation this week that the washed-up plane part being examined in Toulouse has come from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

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The debris, which aviation experts believe to be a wing part from a Boeing 777, washed up on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean last week.

The two-metre-long piece was taken to the southwestern French city of Toulouse, where it began to undergo tests Wednesday at a high-tech laboratory by French, Malaysian and Australian investigators in the presence of Boeing employees and representatives from China.

Technical experts will try to determine whether the debris can provide any clues into what happened to the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared on 8 March last year, inexplicably veering off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The missing flight has sparked an ultimately fruitless multinational hunt for the aircraft.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said confirmation of the origin of the wreckage could be announced this week, while reiterating that Australian officials will continue hunting for the main debris field in the southern Indian Ocean.

Jean-Paul Troadec, the former head of France's BEA agency that investigates air accidents, told French news agency AFP that the analysis will focus on paint on the debris.

"Every airline paints their planes in a certain way... and if the paint used is used by Malaysia Airlines and other companies, there may be more certainty, as other companies may not use Boeing 777s for instance," he said.

Experts would also examine the way the part detached itself from the wing.

"Was it in a violent impact with the sea or not?" he said. "This piece looks like it is in good condition, it doesn't look like the part of a plane that fell vertically in the water at 900 kilometres an hour."

He added that experts may also look for traces of an explosion or fire. But he warned that the analysis was highly unlikely to give any clues as to why the plane mysteriously diverted off course.

"One should not expect miracles," he said.

Other experts have pointed to the barnacles attached to the wreckage, which they say could give an idea of how long the piece has been in the water and perhaps where it has been.

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