HUFFINGTON POST
07/29/2015 04:53 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2015

Debris Found On Island Appears To Be Same Kind Of Plane As Missing MH370

No debris from Flight MH370 has previously been found.

French officials are investigating plane wreckage that on Wednesday washed ashore on the island of Reunion, near Madagascar, for possible links to a Malaysian airplane that vanished without a trace in March 2014. 

American air safety investigators say the debris found on Reunion appears to be from the same type of plane as the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 aircraft. An unnamed U.S. official told the Associated Press that investigators have a "high degree of confidence" that a photo of the wreckage found in Reunion shows a wing component unique to the Boeing 777.

The investigators identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a 777 wing.

"Police in Reunion examining the wreckage say that it looks like it's been in the water for around a year, which again would fit with MH370. We can't say for certainty, but we do think there is a chance that this is it," Xavier Tytelman, a French expert in aviation security told The Telegraph earlier on Wednesday.

He added, "But if the flaperon does indeed belong to MH370, it's clear that the reference will be swiftly identified. In a few days we will have a definitive answer."

In a press conference on Thursday, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the discovery of the airplane fragment was being viewed as a "major lead" in the search for MH370.

"It's the first real evidence that there is a possibility that a part of the aircraft may have been found," Truss said.

The piece of debris had a number stamped on it that could help speed verification.

"This kind of work is obviously going to take some time although the number may help to identify the aircraft parts, assuming that's what they are, much more quickly than might otherwise be the case," Truss said.

On March 8, 2014, 239 people boarded the flight in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, destined for Beijing. About an hour and a half after takeoff, Flight MH370 vanished from radar screens.  A multi-nation search scoured a large expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia.

No plane wreckage has ever been found, and in January, Malaysian authorities officially declared that all on board were presumed dead. 

Credit: Yannick Pitou/Getty Images
Malaysia said on Wednesday a team was on its way to Reunion. "I have sent a team to verify the wreckage ... we hope that it can identify (the wreckage) as soon as possible," Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said during a visit to the United Nations in New York. "Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can ever confirm that it is belonged to MH370," he added. 
 
Malaysia Airlines said it was too early to speculate on the origin of the debris. 
 
 
France's Air crash Investigations Agency (BEA) cautioned on Wednesday it was not possibly yet to specify the origins of the debris. "The part has not yet been identified and it is not possible at this hour to ascertain whether the part is from a B777 and/or from MH370," a spokesperson for the agency said, according to Reuters
 
"It is entirely possible that something could have drifted from our current search area to that island."However, the location of the debris on Reunion would be consistent with the theory that the plane crashed within the 46,000 square mile search area, Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan told the Associated Press. "It doesn't rule out our current search area if this were associated with MH370," Dolan said.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Boeing said in a Wednesday statement to Agence France-Presse that it remains "committed to supporting the MH370 investigation and the search for the airplane. We continue to share our technical expertise and analysis. Our goal, along with the entire global aviation industry, continues to be not only to find the airplane, but also to determine what happened -- and why." 
 
 

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