Last updated: 03:03 PM ET, Wed August 05 2015

Officials Confirm Debris Is From MH370

Impacting Travel | Malaysia Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | August 05, 2015

Officials Confirm Debris Is From MH370

Photo via Twitter

Less than a day after it began to examine a piece of airplane debris discovered last week in the Indian Ocean, officials have determined the part does belong to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared 17 months ago, Malaysia's prime minister said this afternoon.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion (Island) is indeed from MH370,” Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said at a brief press conference.

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said: "Malaysia Airlines would like to sincerely convey our deepest sorrow to the families and friends of the passengers onboard Flight MH370."

However, at a press conference in Paris, a French prosecutor declined to use the word "confirmed," saying that a full analysis still needed to be completed.

“This afternoon at three the operation started and in the presence of one of the three judges in charge of the investigation,” the prosecutor said. “What we can say today there is very strong presumption, very strong likeness, that the flaperon we found should belong to MH370. There are two reasons behind that. The flaperon does belong to the Boeing 777 and there are technical reasons for that. The representatives of the Malaysia Airlines company confirmed certain technical aspects and they were able to confirm the debris with the flight based on technical characteristics.”

It is not known how officials investigating the debris actually confirmed the part is from MH370, such as whether they were able to confirm a serial number from the debris.

The piece, a flaperon that was part of the wing, definitely came from a Boeing 777, the same kind of aircraft of MH370, which took off March 8 from Kuala Lumpur headed for Beijing. It made an abrupt U-turn an hour into the flight, lost contact with air traffic controllers, and disappeared.

Most experts believe it crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Not a single trace of the plane has been found, but a flaperon washed up on shore last week on Reunion Island, 380 miles off the coast of Madagascar and more than 2,000 miles from where search teams had been looking for the missing plane.

The flaperon was flown to a military lab in Toulouse, France, where investigators began examining it today.

On his Facebook page, Prime Minister Rizak wrote:

On 8 March 2014, flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared. The days, weeks and months that followed have...

Posted by Najib Razak on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Malaysia Airlines reacted to the news on Twitter with the following:

This story will be updated periodically.

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