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  • Australia said Thursday, March 24, 2016, the debris found in Mozambique was "highly likely" from MH370. Picture: A piece of debris found by a South African family off the Mozambique coast in December 2015, which authorities will examine to see if it is from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, is pictured in this handout photo released to Reuters March 11, 2016.Reuters
  • A photograph of debris thought to be from the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 plane is seen in this handout photo taken on February 28, 2016. Australia said on March 24, 2016 that plane debris recovered earlier this month from Mozambique was highly likely to have come from a Malaysia Airlines jet missing for more than two years.Reuters

Australia, which has been leading the underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight in the Indian Ocean, said Thursday the debris found on the Mozambique coast was "almost certainly" from the plane. The two pieces, believed to be the plane's parts, were found earlier this month and transported to Australia for investigation. 

Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement Thursday the Australian government had confirmed that the debris recovered from Mozambique was "highly likely to have come from MH370." 

"The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370. That such debris has been found on the east coast of Africa is consistent with drift modelling performed by CSIRO and further affirms our search efforts in the southern Indian Ocean," Chester said. While one piece is a fragment with the words "No Step" printed on one side, another is a piece of metal. 

This is another significant development in the search for the missing plane that disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. Before this, the flaperon found last year on La Reunion island in the Pacific Ocean was "the only piece of debris that has been conclusively identified as coming from MH370," according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). 

The ATSB said in an update Wednesday that 95,000 sq. kms of the 120,000 sq. kms search area has been covered so far. The search operation is likely to end by June or July this year.

"The search for MH370 continues. There are 25,000 square kilometres of the underwater search area still to be searched. We are focused on completing this task and remain hopeful the aircraft will be found," the Australian minister said. 

However, Australia, Malaysia and China, have said that if the search area does not throw up any credible information, it will not be expanded. Family members of the MH370 passengers have contested this position.