Australian transport minister Darren Chester says a piece of an airplane found on a beach in Mozambique will undergo testing in Australia to determine whether it is a part of the lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing with 239 people on board, just short of two years ago.
Chester told Australian lawmakers early Thursday that it is too early to speculate on the origin of the one-meter-long piece of debris that a private U.S. citizen found washed up on the beach in the southeastern African nation. But he confirmed that the debris would be brought to Australia for analysis, although he could not give a projected date.
He also confirmed that the location of the piece was consistent with ocean drift models used by the Australian experts overseeing the search.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been coordinating the international search and rescue operation, in support of the Malaysian accident investigation team, in the southern Indian Ocean.
U.S. and Malaysian officials say that based on early reports, the debris likely comes from a Boeing 777 jet -- the same type of plane as the missing flight MH370.
But Malaysian Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai cautioned on Wednesday that officials "are not able to conclude that the debris belongs to MH370 at this time." He cautioned against "undue speculation" about the debris
Writing on Twitter, the transport minister says Malaysia's civil aviation authority is working with Australian officials to retrieve the debris.
A U.S. official says the debris appears to be the leading edge of the right-hand horizontal stabilizer of a Boeing 777.
Flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew when it disappeared March 8, 2014 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The flight veered far off course about an hour after takeoff, and investigators believe it flew over the southern Indian Ocean for several hours before crashing. Last year, authorities found a piece of what they think is the plane's wing on the shores of Reunion Island.