WASHINGTON - US investigators have concluded that the piece of aircraft debris found Wednesday near a French island in the southern Indian Ocean came from a Boeing 777, raising the odds that it belongs to the mysteriously vanished Malaysian airlines flight MH370, US media reported on Thursday.

The conclusion was based on photos of the object, which was located on a beach of the La Reunion island, The New York Times reported, citing a source familiar with the probe into the 16-month-old disappearance of MH370.

Since no other Boeing 777 is known to be missing, the investigators, who come from Boeing, suggest that the piece is part of the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, according to the report.

US TV network CNN also quoted Boeing officials who spoke on condition of anonymity as saying that initial assessment of the photos of the debris has led to findings that suggest that the debris is consistent in appearance with a Boeing 777’s flaperon, a wing component unique to the type of aircraft.

Meanwhile, the French aviation safety bureau said in a statement that it is studying the information on the plane part “in coordination with our Malaysian and Australian colleagues and with their judicial authorities.”

According to French media, the object, about 9 feet (2.7 meters) long and 3 feet (0.9 meter) wide, was found by people cleaning the nearby beach, and a witness described it as “partly encrusted with shells.”

Should the debris turn out to be from MH370, it would mark a major step in the efforts to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, which vanished with 239 people on board in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China.