Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak confirmed on Thursday (6th August) morning that the aircraft debris found on the French island of Reunion last week is, in fact, from MH370 – the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight which disappeared off the coast of Malaysia in March 2014.
The Prime Minister told reporters that “an international team of experts” examining the debris in France had “conclusively confirmed” that it was from the aircraft that carried 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. He said they now have “physical evidence that flight MH370 tragically ended in the southern Indian Ocean” as the massive search operation that they’ve done in the past found no evidence.
He also added that he hoped the discovery “will at least bring certainty to the families” of the victims, adding the burden they had faced was “unspeakable”.
The full statement is as follows:
On 8 March 2014, flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared. The days, weeks and months that followed have been a period of torment for the families of those on board.
The plane’s disappearance was without precedent. At every stage, we followed the tiny amount of evidence that existed. But, despite the efforts of 26 nations and the largest search in aviation history, from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, the plane could not be located.
Neither could investigations by the world’s leading aviation experts answer why MH370 veered off course and went dark. While the plane’s disappearance remained a mystery, we have shared the anguish of those who could find no comfort.
Last week, on 29th July, we were informed by the French authorities that part of an aircraft wing had been found on Reunion, the French island in the Indian Ocean.
Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have 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.
This is a remote, inhospitable and dangerous area, and on behalf of Malaysia I would like to thank the many nations, organisations and individuals who have participated in the search.
Meanwhile, French prosecutor Serge Mackowiak confirmed that the wing fragment, known as a flaperon, was from a Boeing 777 – the same model as MH370.
According to Mr Mackowiak, initial tests showed that there were “very strong indications” that it was from flight MH370 due to “the colour, structure, joints”. However, the confirmation would only come after they begin further tests on the fragment on Thursday. He added, “(Investigators) will try to do it as soon as possible in order to provide total and reliable information to the family of victims, who are on our minds at the moment.”
The debris is currently being examined at an aeronautical test centre near Toulouse.
Aviation experts expressed disappointment at both the PM’s statement and the deputy public prosecutor’s statement’s statement, adding that their statements “would only add more suffering of the passengers’ families”. An aviation consultant named Jean Serrat told BFMTV, “The Malaysian prime minister was categoric, he said this piece came from flight MH370 … Let’s put ourselves in the place of the families. This is a form of torture for them.”
The victims’ families were told about the initial results shortly before Mr Najib’s news conference on Wednesday. Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of crew member Patrick Gomes, said:
Now that they have confirmed it as MH370, I know my husband is no longer of this world but they just can’t leave it with this one flaperon.
“We urge them to continue searching until they find the plane and bring it back,” she told reporters. “It’s not over yet.” She added that she still hoped to get her husband’s body back so that the family can give him a proper burial and say goodbye.
MAS described confirmation of the flaperon as “a major breakthrough”. In a statement, it said it hoped further evidence would be found in the coming days that would “help resolve this mystery”.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were affected by this tragedy.