A large piece of debris washed ashore on Reunion Island has sparked speculation it could be from the missing Malaysian airliner MH370, which went missing without any trace last year.
According to a Sky news report, the two-metre-long chunk has an identifying number and was found covered in shells on Wednesday morning.
Experts from Malaysia are flying to the island to examine the find.
Air safety investigators have a “high degree of confidence” that the debris is from a Boeing 777 – the same type of aircraft as the missing plane, according to a US official.
The un-named source told the AP news agency they had identified it as a “flaperon” from a 777 wing.
“It is more than likely plane debris, (but) we don’t know what exact part it may be,” said Eric Chesneau, an air transport police officer on the island, a French department in the Indian Ocean.
The disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight has baffled experts since March 2014.
The plane dropped off radar during a journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 people on board.
An extensive sonar trawl of the southern Indian Ocean using has so far drawn a blank.
Police have taken the debris to the island’s Roland Garros Airport for analysis, according to local news site Linfo.re.
Authorities there have warned people not to get “ahead of themselves” until they are able to pinpoint its origin.
France’s air crash investigation body, the BEA, stressed the part had not yet been officially identified.
“At this point in time, the BEA is studying the information on the airplane part found in La Reunion, in coordination with our Malaysian and Australian colleagues, and with the judicial authorities,” said a spokesman.
Radar engineer Dan Holland told Sky News the number found on the debris was “like a VIN number on a car, or a mobile phone’s IMEI number”.
He said investigators should be able to check relatively quickly if it came from the doomed Boeing 777 because the number is unique.
Mr Holland said the fragment appeared to be the “forward edge” of a wing but told Sky he was “extremely sceptical” it is from MH370.
“Any low-flying plane in the area would have been detected by powerful military radar on Diego Garcia,” said Mr Holland.
However, he agreed it was possible the debris could have drifted a great distance from the crash site.
Estimates on how far the plane could have flown vary, but some experts believe it could have travelled as far as Madagascar, some 500 miles past Reunion.
Australia is currently co-ordinating the search for the jet, focusing on a huge expanse of ocean about 1,000 miles off its west coast.