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Debris Found on Island in Indian Ocean Belongs to Missing Flight MH370, Malaysian Prime Minister Says

MH370: Plane Debris Belongs to Missing Malaysian Air Boeing 777
The piece of debris from MH370
Yannick Pitou/AFP/Getty

08/05/2015 AT 02:15 PM EDT

A 10-ft.-long piece of debris recovered last week belongs to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the country's prime minister confirmed in a press conference Wednesday.

The fragment, which has been identified as a flaperon from the missing Boeing 777, was found off the coast of Réunion island, a French territory east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

It's the first sign of the plane, which disappeared on March 8, 2014, after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to Beijing. The jet, which was carrying 239 people, was intentionally diverted from its flight path that night, officials said, flying off course for several hours before disappearing entirely.

At the time, there was speculation that the plane had been hijacked, but that was never proved. In late March 2014, investigators concluded that the plane ended up in the Indian Ocean – and that all of its passengers were likely dead.

The discovery of the fragment brings investigators that much closer to figuring out what happened to the ill-fated flight.

But for the friends and family of the victims, the confirmation that the debris comes from MH370 is not enough.

"A part of a plane is not the same as a body," Sarah Bajc, whose boyfriend Philip Wood was on the flight when it went missing, told the Today show last Thursday. "True closure can only come for sure when you can say goodbye."
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