Police carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, on July 29, 2015 (AFP)

Debris found on Reunion Island a week ago is from flight MH370, Malaysia’s prime minister said on Thursday, confirming that the plane which mysteriously disappeared 17 months ago met a tragic end in the Indian Ocean.

“Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts has conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370,” Najib Razak told reporters.

French prosecutors used more cautious language, saying only there was a “very high probability” the wreckage came from MH370.

The Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared on March 8 last year, inexplicably veering off course en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, sparking a colossal but ultimately fruitless multinational hunt for the aircraft.

Last week’s discovery of a two-metre-long (almost seven-foot) wing part called a flaperon on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion has provided the first glimmer of hope for relatives desperate for answers.

It was examined at a military lab outside the French city of Toulouse in the presence of Malaysian and Australian experts, Boeing employees and representatives from China — the country that lost the most passengers in the disaster. (AFP)