Relatives sceptical over MH370 news
MALAYSIA said yesterday the paint colour and maintenance-record matches proved that a piece of wing found on the shore of an Indian Ocean island was part of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished without a trace last year.
Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said investigators on the French island of Reunion had collected more aircraft debris, including a plane window and aluminium foil, but there was no confirmation that they also belonged to the missing plane.
However, a legal source said that French investigators have not received any further pieces of plane wreckage, Agence France-Presse reported.
With the first trace of the plane now confirmed, Malaysia has asked the governments of neighbouring Mauritius and Madagascar to help widen the search area, he told reporters.
Earlier, Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed that the piece of debris was from the Boeing 777 airliner that had been bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 passengers - most of whom were from China - and crew on board when it went missing on March 8 last year.
"Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370," Mr Najib said in a televised address.
French prosecutors involved in determining if the wing part was from MH370 used more cautious language than Mr Najib, saying only there was a "very high probability" it came from the plane.
Paris prosecutor Serge Mackowiak said this was based on technical data supplied by both the manufacturer and airline, but gave no indication that experts had discovered a serial number or unique markings that would put the link beyond doubt.
But Malaysia Airlines hailed the news as a "major breakthrough" that it said would hopefully help to find the plane somewhere in the depths of the Indian Ocean.
But exactly what happened remains unknown and many family members of Chinese passengers reacted with anger and scepticism to the latest news.
"Find the people for us. We suspect that the airplane wreckage could be faked," Liu Kun, whose younger brother was on board, told Reuters by telephone.
"Parts previously used and exchanged in maintenance could be thrown down there, but the people right now cannot be found."
A group of families from China said French investigators and Boeing must also say definitively that the wing piece was from the plane.
"We are not living in denial... but we owe it to our loved ones not to declare them lost without 100 per cent certainty!" the families said on their microblog.
Some 20 Chinese family members gathered outside the Malaysia Airlines office in Beijing yesterday.
Amid police presence, they wore signs that said "Malaysia hide truth" and "We'll never give up".
"What does such a tiny piece (of debris) mean regarding a 230-tonne plane?" asked Zhang Meiling, whose daughter was on board.
"Why are they trying to fool us? ... To make us take the compensation money? (We) will definitely not accept it."
Dai Shuqin, 62, whose sister was on board, told The Straits Times that they were at the office to demand that the airline helps arrange a trip to Reunion.
"If they want to claim that the plane has been found, they better show it and prove it to us, if not we'll never believe them," she said.
The relatives were also livid that the airline did not inform them about the latest development beforehand. They had found out about Mr Najib's announcement from the news.
China's Foreign Ministry urged Malaysia to keep investigating and to "safeguard the legitimate rights and interests" of the relatives.