The prime minister of Malaysia said on Wednesday, August 5 that an examination of the piece from a plane found on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean confirms it is from missing Malaysian Flight MH370. Prime Minister Najib Razak told a television audience there was no longer any doubt.
“Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370,” Prime Minister Razak said.
The piece of the plane, from a wing and called a flaperon, was flown from the French island, near Madagascar, to France and examined by experts who had data from the airline and manufacturer. On Thursday, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told media that other debris, from seat cushions and window panes, has been found on the island and will be sent to France. He also said that a seal on the flaperon matches the airlines records for the missing plane.
On Wednesday, the prosecutor handling the case in France was not as emphatic about the flaperon’s origin. He only said there was a “very high probability” it was from MH370, but that was prior to the statement from the transport minister about the seal. The statement from the prosecutor and the differing statement from the prime minister had caused consternation for families of the victims.
The plane disappeared on March 8, 2014 while on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 onboard. It disappeared from radar and had its transponder, a part of its tracking system, intentionally turned off; doing so is not a normal procedure on a flight. There has been a massive search underway in the Indian Ocean since, lead by Australia.
Given the difficulty in tracking ocean currents and their effect on objects, it’s unclear how much the finding of the debris means to the ongoing search. However, Malaysia Airlines called the find “a major breakthrough.” The airlines said they are hoping for “more objects to be found which would be able to help resolve this mystery.”
Meanwhile, families of the missing, most of whom were from China or Malaysia, reacted with skepticism about the finds. Some family members say they continue to hold out hope that somehow, somewhere, their loved ones are still alive.