Relatives who lost their loved ones on MH370 have greeted the discovery of possible debris with caution, saying that many questions still have to be answered.
Even if the chunk of white metal found on the remote Indian Ocean island of Reunion is verified to be from the Boeing 777, it will not immediately solve the mystery of the plane’s disappearance.
No bodies, wreckage or traces of the plane have ever been found but at the start of this year, the Malaysian government declared its loss an “accident” and all 239 people on board dead.
The families of passengers and crew have struggled to find closure as conspiracy theories continue to swirl about the tragedy, while searches and investigations drag on.
Sara Weeks, whose brother Paul Weeks was on the Malaysia Airlines flight, said it was hard to believe a large piece of the plane could actually show up more than 16 months after it crashed.
“If it is from MH370, then I still have all the same questions: Where is it? Where is the rest of it? What happened to it?” she said in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“I believe we'll find out what happened to it one day, regardless. Somebody knows what happened.”
She described the continuing uncertainty as a “great big gaping hole in everybody’s life”, adding: “We need to find out what happened to get closure, and move on.”
In pictures: Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
In pictures: Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
1/13 Chinese relatives
A family member of a passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 burns incense as he prays at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing
2/13 Chinese relatives
Family members of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 burn incense to pray at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing
3/13 Chinese relatives
A family member of a passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 comforts another relative as they gather to pray at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing
4/13 Chinese relatives
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cry as they gather at the Lama Temple in Beijing. Chinese relatives marked 100 days since the plane went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing by offering prayers and burning incense at the buddhist temple
5/13 Chinese relatives
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 offer prayers at the Lama Temple in Beijing
6/13 Chinese relatives
A Chinese relative of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 prays at the Lama Temple in Beijing
7/13 Chinese relatives
Chinese relatives of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 hold incense sticks and pray at the Lama Temple in Beijing
8/13 Malaysian relatives
Intan Maizura Othman (34) wife of MH370 fligh attendant Hazrin Hasnan holds placard during an event to remember the 100th day of the missing crews and passengers of Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 in Damansara, Selangor
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A young relative tries to stick paper planes on a board during an event to remember the 100th day of the missing crews and passengers of Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 in Damansara, Selangor
10/13 Malaysian relatives
Pictures of crews and passengers is displayed during an event to remember the 100th day of the missing crews and passengers of Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 in Damansara, Selangor
11/13 Chinese relatives
Chinese police men try to prevent relatives of Chinese passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH370 from marching to the Malaysian embassy from a hotel in Beijing
12/13 Search for flight MH370
Boatswain's Mate, Able Seaman Morgan Macdonald (L) observing markers from a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3K Orion at sea in the Southern Indian Ocean. An oil slick in the Indian Ocean is not from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, officials said when insisting underwater search efforts would be 'pursued to their completion'
13/13 Search for flight MH370
Craig Turner from Phoenix International monitoring the Artemis' depth and speed as the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle scans the ocean floor for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 in the southern Indian Ocean
Jacquita Gomes, the wife of Malaysian cabin crew supervisor Patrick Gomes, said proof that the plane crashed would destroy the last shred of hope that her husband may have landed somewhere unscathed in one of the many theories put forward.
One part of her wants the debris to be verified as part of MH370 so she can put her husband to rest, she said.
“It's been one year, I want him to be at peace,” Mrs Gomes added.
“The other part of me, I don't want it to be true, so there is hope for good news.
“You know, there has been news that people are released after being kidnapped for one year, so there can always be hope for good news if this is not real."
Investigators say it is “almost certainly” a flaperon from a Boeing 777 wing – the same model as MH370 – and the location matches debris flows predicted by scientists after the plane’s disappearance on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
MH370 is also the only Boeing 777 known to be missing.
Malaysian Elain Chew said she did not sleep last night in Kuala Lumpur because she was so nervous, awaiting more news.
Her husband, David Tan Size Hiang, also was a flight attendant on the plane.
A group of many of the Chinese victims’ relatives said in a statement that they wanted authorities to be 100 per cent certain the part was from MH370, and that even if it was the hunt for the rest of the wreckage, bodies and reasons for the plane’s disappearance must continue.
Wang Zheng’s father and mother, Wang Linshi and Xiong Deming, were aboard the flight as part of a group of Chinese artists touring Malaysia.
“All hope is truly gone now,” Wang said. “I'm feeling very confused and emotional at the moment.”
The engineer, from the Chinese city of Nanjing, also said that closure still remains a distant prospect.
“For now, we'll just follow the investigation and see what it shows,” he added.
The disappearance has been difficult for relatives in China, where most of the passengers came from, as culture places a heavy emphasis on seeing loved ones’ remains before the proper grieving process can begin.
Zhang Qian, whose husband Wang Houbin was among the 153 Chinese people on board, said she remained unconvinced.
“We still can't be sure. How could it have travelled so far?” the 29-year-old said, crying.
“They've given us so much contradictory information so far, how can we believe them now?”
Additional reporting by APReuse content