MH370 debris Reunion island suitcase
French gendarmes and police inspect a large piece of plane debris which was found on the beach in Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La ReunionReuters

A damaged suitcase has been found at Saint-André in Réunion island, at the same location a wing piece believed to belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was recovered. Local police confirmed reports that the suitcase washed up in Réunion, according to Julien Delarue, a journalist with Journal de L'île de la Réunion:

Investigators will have to verify whether the damaged suitcase is connected to the debris. A 2m piece of wreckage, which seemed to be a flaperon, washed up on the island of Reunion which is located in the Indian Ocean. A team of investigators is on its way to the island to verify whether it could be part of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

A flaperon is a hinged part on an aircraft wing that can be lowered to control the roll and bank of a plane. Xavier Tytelman, a former military pilot, uploaded pictures of what looks like a wing of a Boeing 777.

Malaysia's deputy transport minister said it was "almost certain" that the piece of wreckage belonged to a Boeing 777. However, a statement from the same ministry warned against raising "false hope for the loved ones of the victims of MH370".

Warren Truss, the Australian deputy prime minister, said they were treating the discovery as a major lead. "A piece of debris could have floated a very, very long way in 16 months and it is a very, very long way to the Reunion islands from where we think the aircraft entered the water," he said at a press conference.

On 8 March 2014, MH370 veered off its course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing for reasons still unknown today. Experts believe it continued for seven hours before crashing in the Southern Indian Ocean. All 239 passengers and crew on board were presumed dead and the case was declared an accident in January.

Search vessels have scoured more than 60,000sq km of the ocean floor with another 60,000sq km to go, but no remnants belonging to the plane have ever been discovered.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Tytelman said: "I've been studying hundreds of photos and speaking to colleagues. And we all think it is likely that the wing is that of a Boeing 777 – the same plane as MH370.

"Police in Reunion examining the wreckage say that it looks like it's been in the water for around a year, which again would fit with MH370. We can't say for certainty, but we do think there is a chance that this is it."

Multiple conspiracy theories have surfaced to fill the void of what happened to the doomed airliner, which has been deemed as one of the biggest aviation mysteries in history.