A beach cleaner has stumbled upon wreckage which may be part of MH370 – Malaysian Airlines’ missing aircraft.

The Boeing 777 plane vanished from the sky 16 months ago and despite an international search, no trace of it has been found since.

However, it seems that Johnny Begue – in discovering a 1.8metre long wing flap on the shore on the French island of Réunion – has made gone some way in solving the greatest aviation mystery of modern times.

The wreckage was half covered in sand and has barnacles stuck around its edges, and Mr Begue also came across battered luggage nearby his initial find.

Mr Begue manages a team of eight people charged with cleaning up the coastline around the town of Saint-Andre in the east of Indian Ocean territory. 

Réunion itself is located east of Madagascar, some 175km southwest of Mauritius – and also some 5,600km away from the doomed jet's last-known location.

Yesterday morning, Mr Begue spotted the wreckage and with the help of his colleagues he was able to pull it away from the shore so it didn’t get swept out to sea again.

Meanwhile, Malaysian officials have now said they are “almost certain” the wing flap came from a Boeing 777 and aviation investigators are currently heading to the island to verify the findings.

It is expected that they will know whether the wreckage came from MH370 within days.

Locals will furthermore be questioned over the weekend in case they have picked up items – now potentially vital clues – on the beach over the last few months.

Aerial and sea support is likely to come from France, Australia, Malaysia and China, as authorities scramble to collect more debris. 

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

A comprehensive report earlier this year into the plane's disappearance revealed that the battery of the locator beacon for the plane's flight data recorder had expired more than a year before the jet vanished.