Debris from a Boeing-777 found on Reunion Island last week has been confirmed to be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014, along with 239 passengers and crew.
"It is with a very heavy heart, I must tell you, a team of experts have conclusively confirmed that debris found on Reunion island is indeed from MH370," Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told a press conference.
Razak added that Malaysia is "determined" to find out what happened to the downed airliner.
"We mourn with you," he stated to the victims' families.
“Family members of passengers and crew have already been informed and we extend our deepest sympathies to those affected," Malaysia Airlines added.
"This is indeed a major breakthrough for us in resolving the disappearance of MH370."
The piece of debris, a wing part known as a flaperon, washed up on a beach on the island near Madagascar several days ago. It bore the serial number BB670.
Debris may have been appearing along the Reunion coastline for up to three months before the wing was identified, according to a report published in the British Daily Mail Sunday.
Two residents told the news agency that they spotted seats and suticases as early as May. One, a garbage collector sent to burn trash which washes up along the beachfront, even stated he may have burned "many" pieces of debris without realizing their connection to the doomed flight as part of his job.
One step closer to solving the mystery?
MH370 has become subject of fascination for the public and aviation enthusiasts alike, after the plane mysteriously vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
A range of theories as to that flight's fate have emerged – from hijacking to crashing to being diverted for use in a terror attack, possibly against Israel. Later theories have become even wilder, ranging from an onboard fire to a suicide mission.
Controversy reigns over every detail of the flight, including the co-pilot's last words – "All right, good night" – and the fact that two Iranian nationals with stolen passports were on board.
One highly publicized theory last year predicted that the 239 passengers and crew died from hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, building on earlier analysis pointing to fuel starvation. A Helios Airways flight in 2005 crashed under similar circumstances.
A more recent theory suggests that the pilot deliberately flew the plane into the sea at a perfect 90-degree angle – thus lessening the debris field.
However, some experts have noted that this week's wing find may lead to more questions – not answers – to the fate of the downed jet. MH370 is widely believed to have crashed over the Indian Ocean – some 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) from Reunion.