An object found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion earlier this month is “unlikely” have come from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, investigators search for the jet said Wednesday.
The 8-by-15-inch piece of ocean debris was found March 3 by Johnny Begue, the beachcomber who last year discovered a barnacle-covered wing fragment that is the only confirmed piece of wreckage from MH370.
Begue's discovery came to light at as two other objects were reported to authorities in Mozambique on the east African coast.
The Boeing 777 vanished on March 8, 2014 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Australian authorities leading the hunt confirmed Wednesday that the two objects from Mozambique — a suspected chunk of horizontal stabilizer found in a sandbank Feb. 27 by American Blaine Gibson, and an item bearing serial number ‘676EB’ picked up in December by a South African teen — would be examined by forensic experts.
“Arrangements are being made for the debris to be transported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) laboratories in Canberra,” the ATSB said in an operational update. “Both items will be examined by investigators from Australia and Malaysia, as well as specialists from Boeing, to confirm if they come from an aircraft and establish their origin.”
It said officials from Malaysia are continuing discussions with French authorities about debris found on Reunion.
"Current advice is that it is unlikely to be from an aircraft,” it added.
The hunt for MH370 will end for good this summer if the wreckage isn’t found within the 46,000-square mile search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.
"If we don't find the aircraft within the priority search site … that's the point at which the search will stop," ATSB Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan told NBC News earlier this month.
Three-quarters of the search zone has been completed so far.
Dolan said the governments involved in the search — Malaysia, China and Australia — "don't have the appetite" to widen the search area, having already spent almost $100 million mapping and scanning the ocean floor.