Australian Transport and Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss said he remained confident the hunt for MH370 was being conducted in the right area, with wreckage in La Reunion consistent with currents from the zone they are scouring.
"It's not positive proof, but the fact that this wreckage was sighted on the northern part of the Reunion Island is consistent with the current movements, it's consistent with what we might expect to happen in these circumstance," he said. Truss added: "We remain confident that we're searching in the right place."
Valborg Byfield, a scientist at the National Oceanography Centre in Britain, said there were two ocean currents which could have swept the wreckage from the crash site to La Reunion.
"Were the plane to have gone done south of the equator, the debris might have been transported by the South Equatorial Current, which bifurcates as it approaches the African coast, with one stream going south along the eastern coast of Madagascar. This would take it past La Reunion."
Flight MH370 was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it mysteriously turned off course and vanished on March 8 last year.
For relatives of those aboard, torn between wanting closure and believing their loved ones were still somehow alive, the discovery was yet another painful turn on an emotional rollercoaster. "It has started all over again, staring at the phone constantly for news," said Jacquita Gonzales, wife of Patrick Gomes, the flight's cabin crew supervisor.
Local government officials on La Reunion said France's civil aviation investigating authority BEA has been asked to coordinate an international probe into the origin of the debris.
Further adding to the mystery, a torn fragment of luggage was discovered in the same place as the plane wreckage. Australian search chiefs have played down any link between the fragment and the doomed flight, however.
While there have been several accidents in the region, such as a South African Airways Boeing 747 that crashed near the island of Mauritius in 1987, killing all 159 people on board, none has involved a Boeing 777.
Experts said an identification number on the debris meant it could be rapidly identified as from a Boeing 777.
Angry next of kin have accused Malaysia's government of incompetence, secrecy, and insensitivity toward relatives, and many have questioned the focus on the Indian Ocean, saying other possibilities were being ignored.
Speculation on the cause of the plane's disappearance has focused primarily on a possible mechanical or structural failure, a hijacking or terror plot, or rogue pilot action.