At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur Liow Tiong Lai said paint colour and maintenence record checks have proved that the flaperon was from MH370.
He also said that investigators had collected “many items” including a plane window and aluminium foil, but they had yet to confirm whether they were also from the missing plane. They have been sent to France for analysis.
The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the discovery of the wing part “does seem to indicate the plane came down where we thought it did and that for the first time we may be a little bit closer to solving this baffling mystery”.
Malaysia Airlines described the find as a “major breakthrough”.
The Malaysian government has now asked the authorities in Mauritius and Madagascar to help widen the debris search area.
Bao Lanfang, who lost her son, daughter-in-law and three year old grandson on flight MH370, supported by other grieving relatives
In an earlier televised address the Malaysian PM said: “Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370.”
MH370 was travelling from Kualar Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014 when it disappeared. Many of the passengers on board were Chinese, and on Thursday some families protested outside the Malaysia Airline offices in Beijing, demanding more information and visas to travel to Reunion Island.
But Judith Zielke, the deputy coordinator of the joint agency leading the search for the plane, stressed that the process could still take many months: “Our target area is 120,000 square kilometres.. and we’ve searched over half of that area to date. So, we’re making good progress.
“Obviously we hope every day that today will be the day that we will find it, but it’s taken us a year to get this far and it could possibly take us another year to complete that area, if we need to do that.”