KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 29: The drivers helmet of Jean-Eric Vergne of France and Scuderia Toro Rosso bears and inscription in memory to Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 prior to qualifying for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on March 29, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo : Peter Fox/Getty Images)
More than a year after Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, a piece of an aircraft washed up from the Indian Ocean raised hopes of finding the missing plane.
"France's air crash investigation agency is studying a piece of plane debris found on Reunion Island off the east coast of Africa but it was too early to say if it came from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370," Reuters reported. "A source familiar with the matter said the debris was most likely from a Boeing 777, but that it was not yet established if it was from MH370."
Air safety officials are reportedly highly confident that the washed up plane debris, said to be a "flaperon" from the edge of a plane's wing, is that of a Boeing 777. Flight MH370 was a Boeing 777.
A photo of the said debris revealed extensive barnacles, which reportedly indicates the piece has been in the ocean for "a long time," India Today said.
"Employees of a company responsible for cleaning the shoreline discovered the debris about two metres long on Wednesday," the publication explained. "After reviewing the pictures on a news site, Aviation safety expert Xavier Tytelman said the size and shape matches do not match a modern airliner."
It is worth noting that Reunion Island, which is near Madagascar and is a French department, is "thousands of miles west of the MH370 search area, which covers some 75,000 square miles," according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, TheAviationist.com editor David Cenciotti expressed doubt about the debris being a part of MH370.
"The Malaysia Airlines B777 is not the only plane that went missing, and there are some mysteriously disappeared in Africa. It could even be one of those aircraft. I'm not saying that one is not the MH370, just that it's weird that debris appeared over there," he opined.
Despite this, the emergence of the washed-up debris has sparked renewed hope among relatives of MH370 passengers that the missing jet may finally be found and that they might finally get the closure they seek. However, it has also appeared to dash lingering hopes that any of the missing may still be alive.
"All hope is truly gone now. I'm feeling very confused and emotional at the moment," Wang Zheng, whose parents were among those aboard the Malaysian Airlines flight, told The Guardian.
Authorities are currently still investigating the matter. A number found on the debris, BB670, is reportedly not a serial number but "could be a maintenance number," the British publication said.
"The investigation will take some time but the BB670 number could help to speed that up," the news source said, based on Australian deputy prime minister Warren Truss' statement.