WASHINGTON DC —
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed Thursday (local time) that a piece of an airplane wing found on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean belonged to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared without a trace 17 months ago.
"Five hundred 15 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," Mr. Razak grimly said in a televised address.
Malaysia Airlines put out a statement of condolence to the families and friends of all 239 passengers and crew on the flight. "It is indeed a major breakthrough for us in resolving this disappearance of MH370. We expect and hope that there would be more objects to be found which would be able to help resolve this mystery."
But experts in Paris, where the part was taken for analysis, are not yet ready to say for sure that what was found on the French territory is part of the vanished plane. A French prosecutor said there is "strong supposition" it is from MH370, but that their findings still have to be confirmed.
Relatives of the passengers, who have been holding to even the tiniest sliver of hope for a happy outcome, say one piece of a wing will not bring them closure. Some say a lot of questions are still unanswered and that the entire plane must be found.
Reunion Island is in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius, thousands of kilometers away from where the Boeing 777 vanished from radar on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.
Investigators searched the Indian Ocean, close to Australia, and found nothing. Theories about what happened to Flight MH370 include bad weather, a hijacking, or that the pilot deliberately crashed the jet. Nothing has been conclusive.