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[KUALA LUMPUR] Investigators are "moving close to solving the mystery of MH370," Malaysia's deputy transport minister said Friday, adding that a piece of wreckage found in the Indian Ocean has been confirmed as coming from a Boeing 777.
"I believe that we are moving close to solving the mystery of MH370. This could be the convincing evidence that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean," Mr Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told AFP.
He said a part number stencilled on the piece of wreckage recovered on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion on Wednesday confirms it came from a Boeing 777.
The ill-fated jet, which vanished 16 months ago with 239 people aboard, was a Boeing 777.
Investigators believe it mysteriously diverted off its flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March of last year and later crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
There have been no other crashes of that aircraft model in that part of the world.
"From the part number, it is confirmed that it is from a Boeing 777 aircraft. This information is from MAS (Malaysia Airlines). They have informed me," he said.
AFP was not immediately able to reach Malaysia Airlines for comment.
The wing component found on the French island of La Reunion bears the part number "657 BB", according to photos of the debris.
The two-metre (six-foot) long piece of wreckage, known as a flaperon, has been sent to France for analysis.
Mr Abdul Aziz's remarks are the latest official statement pointing to the increasingly likelihood that the piece of wreckage came from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
Hopes are rising fast that the part can soon be conclusively identified in order to resolve one of aviation's great mysteries.
Mr Abdul Aziz said the most definitive confirmation of its origin would have to come from Boeing, saying the aircraft manufacturer performed modifications to the flaperon that would make it easy to identify.
"There have been some modifications to internal beams in the flaperon. Only Boeing can verify (that the flaperon came from MH370). The modifications were done by Boeing," he said.
"Only after they verify the internal parts of the flaperon can they be sure that it is from MH370." Mr Abdul Aziz said a team of Malaysian investigators had arrived in Paris and would make its way to the city of Toulouse to help examine the debris.
Another Malaysian team was en route to Reunion, he said, where it would examine the remains of a piece of luggage that was found there and any other debris that may turn up.