(Neo Web Desk) An aircraft wing section washed up on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean is “almost certainly” wreckage from a Boeing 777, Malaysia’s deputy transport minister has said, though it is not yet confirmed as coming from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
MH370, which disappeared almost 17 months ago, is the only unaccounted-for 777 in the world. Malaysia has sent a team to Réunion to examine the debris of a flaperon, a two metre-long moveable part on the trailing edge of the wing.
A mechanic from the Réunion-based airline Air Austral told journalists he had studied the debris with French military officials and concluded with 99.9% certainty that it originated from a Boeing 777. He said the debris was stamped with 657-BB, a number that could be used to identify a part and the plane to which it belonged.
Warren Truss, Australia’s deputy prime minister, said the discovery was being treated as a “major lead” in the hunt for MH370, which went missing with 239 people on board om 8 March 2014on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Réunion lies on the extreme western edge of a huge search area in the Indian Ocean identified as the likely crash site by investigators, based on the last satellite pings from the aircraft.
Truss said the flaperon, which was said by a witness to be “covered in shells”, was “not inconsistent with a Boeing 777”. Truss cited a different number stamped on the debris – BB670 – from that reported by the French mechanic. He added that the number could be a maintenance repair number.
Truss said: “This obviously is a very important development and if it is indeed wreckage from MH370, it starts to provide some closure for the families of the people on board.
“The Réunion islands are a very long way from the search area, but it is consistent with the work that has been done in identifying the current search area, the satellite interpretations of the route path that the aircraft is expected to have taken. So a discovery of wreckage in that area would not be inconsistent with that advice.”