KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's government said Monday that debris has been found in the Maldives and that it will send a team to the Indian Ocean island nation to determine whether it came from a plane.
Last week, Malaysia said a wing fragment found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion was confirmed to be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The plane went missing March 8, 2014, with 239 people aboard while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The search was continuing on Reunion. Local municipal workers combed the island's eastern shore, hefting bags they filled with whatever they found: old cloth, part of a tire, plastic bottles and other objects they found washed up on the rocks and sand.
But Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said it was premature to speculate whether the debris found in the Maldives is connected to Flight 370.
He said the Malaysian team will first try to determine whether the debris is from a plane before proceeding further. He didn't give details on what kind of debris was found. Media reports in the Maldives indicate the debris was found in recent weeks and came to authorities' attention after the discovery on Reunion.
"I urge all parties to allow for the verification process to take its due course. Undue speculation will only stress the families and loved ones, anxiously awaiting news on this matter," Liow said in a statement.
The plane was believed to have crashed in the remote southern Indian Ocean but no trace had been found until a barnacle-crusted object was discovered two weeks ago on French-held Reunion Island. Authorities are certain the fragment is from a Boeing 777 component known as a flaperon, but the French have yet to positively identify it as a piece of Flight 370.
Malaysia has since sought help from other territories to look for other possible debris, and France also deployed a plane, helicopters and boats around Reunion to search the waters.