Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has confirmed that the plane debris discovered last week on Réunion Island is indeed from Malaysia Airlines 370, the flight that disappeared mysteriously last year with 239 people onboard. Razak also said that he was committed to doing whatever was necessary to find out what happened to the flight. The announcement was made today following analysis of the recovered plane wing part at a military laboratory.
As reported by Bloomberg, the debris is the first physical evidence of the aircraft that went missing in March of 2014. A stenciled number on the piece of wreckage also corresponds to a Boeing 777 component, officials said Friday. MH370 is the only Boeing 777 known to have crashed in the southern hemisphere, and the only 777 aircraft currently unaccounted for.
Malaysia Airlines offered the following statement: "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."
Today's announcement marks an important milestone in the search for MH370, which vanished from radar in March 2014. Its disappearance sparked an international search across the southern Indian Ocean, leaving relatives of the flight's passengers in a state of limbo. The Malaysian government officially deemed the disappearance an accident in January 2015, saying all crew and passengers were presumed dead, though the search for the plane's wreckage has continued.
A six-foot part of a plane wing washed ashore last week in Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean, about 2,300 miles from the search area. Upon inspection, investigators from Australia, France, and Malaysia said they had a "high degree of certainty" that the piece of debris came from a Boeing 777 plane, though further tests were undertaken at a military laboratory in Toulouse, France prior to today's confirmation.
The discovery will likely not narrow the search for the rest of the plane, investigators say, since ocean currents could have easily carried the debris to Réunion. Australia, which has been leading the underwater search for MH370, said in a statement released today that it would not expand the area of its investigation, which currently encompasses about 46,000 square miles in the south Indian Ocean. But the confirmation does provide the strongest evidence that the plane crashed, affirming what the Malaysian government announced based on satellite data weeks after its disappearance.