More than a year after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 mysteriously vanished en route to Beijing, a piece of the plane may have finally been found.
A ten-foot long fragment, which appears to be a flap from an aircraft, was found Wednesday morning off the coast of Reunion island, a French territory east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, CNN and the AFP reports.
“It was covered in shells, so one would say it had been in the water a long time,” a witness told the wire service.
However, officials said it’s too early to tell if the piece of wreckage comes from the lost aircraft. “It is way too soon to say whether or not it is MH370. We just found the debris this morning in the coast of Saint Andre,” Adjutant Christian Retournat, a member of the French Air Force in Reunion, told CNN.
MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 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 from radar entirely.
At the time, there was speculation that the plane had been hijacked, but that was never proven. In late March 2014, investigators concluded that the plane had ended up in the Indian Ocean – and that all of its passengers were likely dead.
However, ships continued to comb the Indian Ocean, searching for any sign of the aircraft, as recently as May. “It can’t go on forever, but as long as there are reasonable leads, the search will go on,” said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the one-year anniversary of the plane’s disappearance.
With the possible discovery of a fragment of the plane comes the hope that investigators will finally be able to determine what happened to the ill-fated flight. But for now the families of the 239 passengers are just looking for some measure of closure.
“We know that as the days go by, the probability of survivors diminishes and approaches zero,” K.S. Narendran told his daughter in the days after learning that his wife’s plane had vanished. “I don’t know what life will be without her. What I do know is that we have a life ahead of us.”