Officers carrying pieces of debris from an unidentified aircraft apparently washed ashore in Saint-Andre de la Reunion, eastern La Reunion island, France, on July 29, 2015.
Raymond Wae Tion—EPA
By Sarah Begley
Updated: August 5, 2015 3:16 PM ET

Debris that was recently recovered from the Indian Ocean has been confirmed to be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the plane that disappeared in March 2014. Malaysia’s prime minister announced on Wednesday that the material was a part of a wing from the Boeing 777.

Experts hope that the segment, which washed ashore on the island of Reunion, may provide clues as to what happened to the plane. The flaperon, a part of the wing that stabilizes flight, is the first piece of physical evidence in the case.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion is indeed from MH370,” Prime Minister Najib Razak announced in a televised statement. “We now have physical evidence that … 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, organizations and individuals who have participated in the search,” Razak said. “The burden and uncertainty faced by the families during this time has been unspeakable. It is my hope that this confirmation, however tragic and painful, will at least bring certainty to the families and loved ones of the 239 people on board.”

MH370 departed from its planned route and ceased communication with air traffic controllers less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing. Australian officials are leading the underwater search for the plane; they said about 23,000 square miles have already been combed, with another 23,000 to go, the New York Times reports.

Prime Minister Razak said that Malaysia will continue to do all it can to find out the details of the accident.

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