Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and the Malaysian Prime Minister have confirmed the wing debris found on Reunion Island off the coast of Africa was from MH370 and described the finding as a “major breakthrough”.
The wing flaperon was discovered washed up on the beach on July 29 and has been analysed by French investigators alongside officials from Malaysia, Australia and Boeing.
While investigators had said previously the flaperon was from a Boeing 777, they had held back on confirming it was from the same aircraft that operated MH370, which disappeared enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.
Until Wednesday, when the Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak told the nation the debris was from the MAS Boeing 777-200ER, 9M-MRO, that operated the flight.
“Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts has conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris is indeed MH370,” the Malaysian Prime Minister said on Wednesday.
“I would like to assure all those affected by this tragedy that the government of Malaysia is committed to do everything within our means to find out the truth of what happened.”
Following the Prime Minister’s comments, MAS released a statement of its own describing the confirmation as a major breakthrough.
“Malaysia Airlines would like to sincerely convey our deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers onboard Flight MH370 on the news that the flaperon found on Reunion Island on 29 July was indeed from Flight MH370,” the company said.
“This has been confirmed jointly today by the French Authorities, Bureau d’ Enquetes et d‘ Analyses pour la Securites de I’AviationCivile (BEA), the Malaysian Investigation Team, Technical Representative from PRC and Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) in Toulouse, France and subsequently announced by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak.”
“This is indeed a major breakthrough for us in resolving the 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.
“Moving forward, Malaysia Airlines’ priority is to continue to provide the latest updates and information to the families and it will fully cooperate with the relevant authorities on the investigation and recovery of this tragic accident.”
The ATSB, which is leading the search for the missing aircraft, said it had reviewed its search calculations and priorities following discovery of the wing debris and “is satisfied that the discovery of the flaperon at La Réunion, 16 months after the disappearance of MH370, is consistent with the current underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean”.
“Drift modelling by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) shows that material from the current search area could have been carried to La Réunion, as well as other locations, as part of a progressive dispersal of floating debris through the action of ocean currents and wind,” the ATSB said in its most recent operational update on August 5.
The search effort has covered about 60,000 square kilometres so far.
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