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Posted: July 30, 2015

5 things to know about possible MH370 debris found on Reunion Island


Photos: 777 debris found on Indian Ocean island
Police and gendarmes carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015. The two-metre-long debris, which appears to be a piece of a wing, was found by employees of an association cleaning the area and handed over to the air transport brigade of the French gendarmerie (BGTA), who have opened an investigation. An air safety expert did not exclude it could be a part of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing in the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014. (Photo: YANNICK PITOU/AFP/Getty Images)

By Cox Media Group National Content Desk


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A U.S. official says air safety investigators have a "high degree of confidence" that debris found in the Indian Ocean is from a wing component of a Boeing 777 aircraft – the same model as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared last year.

Here's what we know so far about investigators' findings.

1. Coastal workers found the wreckage Wednesday. The 6.5- to 8-foot-long piece of debris appears to be a "flaperon" – part of an aircraft wing – that has been in the water for a long time and collected sea life.

>> RELATED: US official: Debris belongs to same type of aircraft as missing Malaysia plane

2. Officials believe the debris is from a Boeing 777. According to The Associated Press, a U.S. official who declined to be identified says investigators — including one from Boeing — identified the wreckage as a piece of a 777 aircraft. French law enforcement is on the scene to examine the debris, and Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said a team is headed to Reunion Island.

"Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can ever confirm that it is belonged to MH370," Lai said.

>> PHOTOS: 777 debris found on Indian Ocean island

3. There are no other missing Boeing 777s. If the wreckage is confirmed to be from a Boeing 777, "it would almost certainly have to belong to Flight 370," the AP reports. Officials believe that flight crashed in the southern Indian Ocean 16 months ago.

>> RELATED: Timeline of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

4. The debris was found nearly 2,650 miles away from the current MH370 search site in the southern Indian Ocean. According to the AP, Reunion Island is more than 3,500 miles away from the last known location of MH370.

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5. Could currents have carried MH370 wreckage to Reunion Island? "Someone's going to have to really reverse-engineer the flow pattern of the ocean and try and backtrack where this may have floated from," Greg Feith, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said in an interview with NBC News.

Mashable adds that it is possible that "debris from a plane crash 16 months ago ... made a circuitous and meandering journey" to an island thousands of miles away.

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