Last updated: 09:14 AM ET, Thu July 30 2015

Officials Cautiously Optimistic Over Possible MH370 Debris

Impacting Travel | Malaysia Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | July 30, 2015

Officials Cautiously Optimistic Over Possible MH370 Debris

Government officials and investigators are taking a cautiously optimistic tone today, one day after a piece of debris that appears to be part of a wing has washed up on shore on a remote island in the western Indian Ocean, fueling speculation it could be part of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, whose country has led the search efforts for the vanished jet for more than a year, said today the piece of wreckage is “a very significant development,” and a “major lead,” even though the discovery came at Reunion Island, a French territory 380 miles from the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean and 2,300 miles from where the search team has concentrated its efforts.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said this morning the debris is "very likely" from a Boeing 777 – the same model as Flight MH370.

The flight disappeared in March of 2014 without a trace. It originally was scheduled from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, made an abrupt U-turn, and hasn’t been heard from since.

Officials believe it crashed into the ocean but not a single piece of debris has been found.

Until Wednesday.

Multiple reports say the piece discovered looks like a flaperon, part of a Boeing 777 that helps stabilize the wing.

“This concave shape is indeed common to the 777 flap design,” a Boeing engineer told The Wall Street Journal.

Investigators on site also found a code, ‘657BB,’ imprinted on the wreckage. tweeted that, according to a maintenance manual, it’s a part of the Boeing 777.

Reunion Island is almost 4,000 miles from Malaysia and more than 3,000 miles from where an Australian-led search team had been looking for the wreckage.

That said, it’s not impossible that debris could travel that far in the space of 16 months. In 2011, debris from a tsunami in Japan washed up on the shores of the west coast of the United State nine months later – a distance of nearly 5,000 miles.

"It's credible that debris from MH370 could have reached the Reunion Islands by now," Truss told reporters today.

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