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article imagePlane debris appears to be from Flight 370, tests show

By Nathan Salant     Aug 6, 2015 in Travel
Kuala Lumpur - Initial tests show plane debris found on an Indian Ocean island last week appears to be from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, officials said Wednesday.
"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 MH370," Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak told a press conference Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.
The finding should end the "unspeakable" uncertainty surrounding last year's disappearance of the Boeing 777 airliner and the fate of its 239 passengers and crew, Najib said, according to the Associated Press.
But some experts in France, where the material was examined, and from the United States and Australia, which are taking part in the investigation of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, said the results did not prove absolutely that the material was from the missing plane.
Flight 370, also called MH370, lost contact with airport towers and disappeared from radar screens on March 8, 2014, while on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Based on signals picked up by military outposts, investigators think the jetliner turned radically off-course and headed out over the Indian Ocean, where it ran out of fuel and crashed.
Whether and why that would have happened has been the source of considerable conjecture since Flight 370 vanished, but an exhaustive year-long search of the ocean floor found no evidence of the plane.
The plane part found off Reunion Island was part of a 777 wing used to control navigation called a "flaperon," and many investigators assumed it was from Flight 370 because no other 777 flaperon has been reported missing.
The tests being conducted at an aviation laboratory in Toulouse are designed to prove where the part came from and whether it had been subjected to unusual stresses before it detached from the plane.
"The fact that this wreckage does now look very much like it is from MH370 does seem to confirm that it went down in the Indian Ocean, it does seem very consistent with the search pattern that we've been using for the last few months," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Melbourne Radio 3AW, the AP said.
"Let's hope we can turn something up," Abbott said.
An unnamed spokesman for U.S. investigators said in France that there so far was nothing to prove that the flaperon came from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
The officials said further testing would begin Thursday.
"The very strong conjectures are to be confirmed by complementary analysis that will begin tomorrow morning," French prosecutor Serge Mackowiak told the AP.
"The experts are conducting their work as fast as they can in order to give complete and reliable information as quickly as possible," Mackowiak said.
The reason for the apparent disagreement between the international officials was not clear Wednesday.
Aviation experts from Malaysia who are leading the accident investigation have said the jetliner appeared to have its course manually reset, although it was unclear by whom.
Experts from Australia, which is leading search efforts, say the plane flew over the Indian Ocean in a straight line for hours, suggesting that the autopilot had been re-engaged, before running out of fuel.
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