SAINT-ANDRE, Réunion, July 30 (UPI) -- A small section of wing that possibly came from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 along with a damaged suitcase found nearby will take at least several days to analyze, officials said.
The debris, which appears to be part of a Boeing 777 wing, washed up Wednesday on the French island of Reunion -- off the African coast in the southern Indian Ocean. It is being viewed by some as the first concrete piece of evidence of the plane's fate.
French officials are working to match any markings on the nine-foot long flaperon -- a small part behind the Boeing 777's wing -- to the missing flight. Officials said the determination could still be at least a week off, The New York Times reported.
The piece of debris was boxed up and sent to France, where it will undergo examination.
Remnants of a suitcase were also found near where the flaperon was discovered, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Officials have not conclusively linked the flaperon to Flight 370, but many have said the debris' location and condition is consistent with the theory the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean. American investigators stated their belief the piece is indeed from a 777 -- and, in all probability, Flight 370.
"If it is from a Boeing 777, it can't be from anything except MH370," aviation expert Richard Aboulafia told The Washington Post Thursday. "I mean, no one else just happens to be missing a 777 in that region of the world."
Some scientists also believe the flaperon's appearance in Reunion fits with the theory that it's from MH370, acknowledging its consistency with the direction of the ocean's currents.
"It's consistent with an aircraft that went down in March 2014, in an area off the southwest of Australia. It all fits in with the search pattern," oceanographer Simon Boxall said.
One expert said if it does belong to Flight 370, the piece indicates the jetliner hit the water at a high rate of speed and was completely destroyed by the impact.
"Looking at the part, just the photo, suggests the part separated from the aircraft violently," Australian aviation engineer Peter Marosszeky told the Times. "Looking at the part, it's pretty clear the aircraft didn't survive, it was completely destroyed."
All 239 people aboard the flight were presumed dead, but the families of some passengers have not yet given up hope their loved ones could still be alive, making Wednesday's discovery unwelcome news for them.
Some relatives issued a statement saying they were tired of hearing from officials with "99 percent confidence," the Post report said.
"We want 100 percent confidence," they wrote.
Many investigators said the new discovery is encouraging, but emphasized it's too early to make a definitive conclusion.