Plane debris confirmed to be part of MH370

  • 06/08/2015
The plane debris was found on Reunion Island last week (AAP)
The plane debris was found on Reunion Island last week (AAP)

The sister of a Kiwi man who was on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is taking little comfort from today's confirmation a part of the plane has been found.

MH370 vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board in March last year.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this morning said experts studying the piece of debris – a wing component called a flaperon – found on Reunion Island last week say it is from the plane.

"Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts has conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370," he said.

"We now have physical evidence that, as I announced on 24 March last year, flight MH370 tragically ended in the southern Indian Ocean. This is a remote, inhospitable and dangerous area, and on behalf of Malaysia, I would like to thank the many nations, organisations and individuals who have participated in the search."

New Zealander Paul Weeks was on the flight, and his sister Sara wants to know what happened to the plane and the people on board. She says while this is a move in the right direction, it isn't enough evidence to bring closure to her family.

"A wee piece of a wing can't bring closure. It can give you some idea of what happened yes, but we need to know why? We need to know how? We need all of those answers. You can't have closure when you don’t know what's happened to someone."

Ms Weeks, who was told of the test results when a reporter phoned her in the early hours of this morning, says she is disgusted with the way the situation has been handled from the start.

"I was rung by a reporter, at 5:45 this morning and that’s how I found out. Popped the news on and watched the press statement from the Malaysian prime minister. So that’s the same old for me, that’s how I get notified."

"I'm disgusted, I think the whole 17 months has been horrible, it's been handled appallingly and it continues to be handled appallingly. Including right up until today, when we get this confirmation from the Malaysian prime minister, who says that it is conclusively confirmed to be from my brother's plane… but the French prosecutor says there is a strong indication that it is from MH370, this is from today also, but he needs more testing," she says.

Mr Najib gave no indication that the analysis of the debris yielded any clues into the cause of the Boeing 777's disappearance.

"I would like to assure all those affected by this tragedy that the government of Malaysia is committed to do everything within our means to find out the truth of what happened," he said.

"MH370's disappearance marked us as a nation. We mourn with you, as a nation."

After the flaperon was found on a beach on Reunion Island – thousands of kilometres away from MH370's last known position – it was taken to France, where it was examined by French and Malaysian technical experts and representatives from Boeing to determine any link to MH370.

"Now I want to know where the main body of the plane is, so that we can take out the passengers and get the black box so we can know what happened. Only that, for us, will be full closure," said Jacquita Gonzales, wife of MH370 chief steward Patrick Gomes.

Lee Khim Fatt's wife, Foong Wai Yueng, was a flight attendant, and said he is "still not satisfied".

"There are still so many questions left unanswered, so many holes in the puzzle," he said.

"Until today we have no answers. Don't just show me a flaperon. Show me more. Answer the questions."

Many relatives have accused Malaysian authorities and the airline of a bungled response to the disaster, possible cover-up, and insensitive treatment of families.

Jiang Hui, whose mother was on board, said major questions still remained, including why the plane went off course, crossed back over Malaysia and went south into the Indian Ocean.

"The finding of debris does not mean the finding of our next of kin," Jiang said.

In Kuala Lumpur, Melanie Antonio - whose husband was a flight attendant on MH370 - said she wasn't sure how to feel.

"I'm numb, I'm not sad," she said.

"It's just a flaperon, it doesn't prove anything. We still need the wreckage to prove. I just want anything that can tell me my hubby is gone."

Jacquita Gomes, also the wife of a flight attendant, echoed that sentiment.

"If it's not too much to ask, I still want the remains of my husband," she said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines has expressed its condolences, saying it will now focus on investigating the matter further to answer questions around it.

"This is indeed a major breakthrough for us in resolving the disappearance of MH370. We expect and hope that there would be more objects to be found which would be able to help resolves this mystery," a spokesperson said.

"Malaysia Airlines' priority is to continue to provide the latest updates and information to the families and it will fully cooperate with the relevant authorities on the investigation and recovery of this tragic accident."

3 News / AFP