PETALING JAYA - The flaperon found on a beach on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean has been positively identified as a part from a Boeing 777, which makes it very likely to be from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
There have been several incidents involving the Boeing 777 aircraft since it first entered service in 1994. Of all those cases, only five concluded in the planes being deemed as total losses, also know as a "hull loss".
Of the five, there is only one documented case involving a plane lost over an ocean in the southern hemisphere - MH370, which vanished in mysterious circumstances in March 2014.
The riddle may at last have been solved.
Officials are optimistic the latest debris may help resolve the mystery surrounding the jetliner.
"The only 777 aircraft that we're aware of in the Indian Ocean that could have led to this part floating is MH370," said Martin Dolan, the head of the Australian agency coordinating the underwater search for the plane.
If confirmed to be part of MH370, the wreckage would be the first bit of physical evidence recovered from that plane.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the flaperon had been officially identified as part of a Boeing 777 by the French authorities together with Boeing, the US National Transportation Board and the Malaysian investigation team.
To add to the evidence that the missing plane is close to being found, more debris has been found washed ashore on the island.
A Sky News report quoting sources said what looked like a plane door had been found on the island while a garbage collector, whose job is to keep the beach clean, had reported picking up what looked like blue plane seats and other metal parts before burning them all.
The residents of Reunion Island have little access to information from around the world and most had not even heard of Malaysia or the missing plane until the current rush of excitement hit them with the debris find on the beaches.
A metal object with what was said to be "Chinese and Malaysian writing" was also found on the beach yesterday but was later written off as "just a domestic ladder".
Director-General of Civil Aviation Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the debris had nothing to do with the missing plane.
"I'm the one leading the investigation in France for the analysis of the (wing flap) piece. I read all over media it (the new debris) was part of a door. But I checked with the Civil Aviation Authority, and people on the ground in Reunion, and it was just a domestic ladder."
Investigators are now scouring over every inch of the beach to look for more debris.
On Wednesday, the flaperon covered with barnacles was found on the French-ruled island, sparking speculation that it was from the Malaysia Airlines plane.
The flaperon is now in Toulouse for examination by French, American, Malaysian and Boeing investigators tomorrow.
The Government is also talking to aviation authorities from areas near Reunion Island, Liow said.
"This is to allow the experts to conduct more substantive analysis should there be more debris coming ashore," he said in a statement.
The Government sent a four-man team to the island, which is working with local authorities there now.
MH370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean on March 8 last year with 239 people on board.