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Flotsam on Distant Shore Brings Breakthrough in MH370 Probe

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The piece of debris was two meters (6.5 feet) long and encrusted with barnacles when it was discovered on a beach on Reunion, a French island in the western Indian Ocean, in late July.

It turned out to be a flaperon, part of a wing from a Boeing 777. And it appeared to provide the first tangible evidence that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had crashed, after it vanished 17 months ago during a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Of the 239 people on board, 153 were Chinese nationals and 38 were Malaysians.

After the discovery was announced July 29, the piece of wing was sent for laboratory testing and analysis near Toulouse, France.

At an early-morning news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 6, Prime Minister Najib Razak delivered the news that an international team of experts had “conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370.”

“We now have physical evidence that, as I announced on 24th March last year, flight MH370 tragically ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” he told his nation.

Deputy Prosecutor Serge Mackowiak, a French official involved in the analysis, was more cautious, saying only there was a "very high probability" it came from the plane.

That discrepancy angered some MH370 relatives. Many voiced anguish that so much about the plane’s fate remained unknown – including where it is and why it vanished.

Officials in Australia, which is spearheading the search for the plane, expressed optimism that the flaperon discovery had brought the world closer to solving the mystery.

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