Investigators said they had a “high degree of certainty” Thursday that aircraft wreckage found on an island in the western Indian Ocean is a wing component unique to a Boeing 777 airplane, the same model as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously vanished more than a year ago with 239 people on board.
Australian authorities, who have led the search, say models suggest the wreckage could have floated that far, carried by ocean currents, and that this find would likely not change the current search area.
“When you find a part like this, historically what we have found is that you will find other parts in the area,” CBS News transport safety expert Mark Rosenker said.
There were also reports Thursday of a damaged suitcase found washed ashore on La Reunion. A local news website published photos of a man holding what was purportedly a tattered bag recovered from a beach near the wreckage.
Rosenker, a former chairman of the NTSB, told CBS News that investigators would now be pouring over the recovered part, looking for clues.
“Was this metal torn? Was it crumpled? Had it been ripped in some shape or form? Is it pop marked? Does it have any type of char on it which would indicate a fire? All of that is going to be very important,” Rosenker said.
293 passengers and crew were aboard the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and victims’ families have endured false leads before.
“We’ve been through this many times,” said K.S. Narendran, whose wife was one of the passengers. “I think it has really not helped us to either keep expectations high or to, in a sense, hope for some quick answers.”
Doane reports that a group of Chinese victims’ families have posted a letter online saying they are awaiting official confirmation of whether the piece of debris is indeed a part of missing flight MH370.
They say what matters the most to them, however, is where their family members are.
“We have had many false alarms before,” Prime Minister Razak said. “But for the sake of the families who have lost loved ones and suffered such heartbreaking uncertainty, I pray that we will find out the truth so that they may have closure and peace.”