Is it or isn't it?
That's the question being raised by furious relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 after officials offered mixed messages on whether a piece of debris found last week belonged to the missing plane.
The plane part — a wing fragment from a Boeing 777 — was sent from the Indian Ocean island of Reunion to France for analysis.
Malaysia's prime minister came out late Wednesday saying that experts "conclusively confirmed" the fragment "is indeed from MH370." French officials, however, were far more circumspect. Serge Mackowiak, a deputy prosecutor in France, said only that investigators "can very strongly presume" the debris was from the missing plane, while Australian officials said they were awaiting further detail from the French-led investigating team.
Angry relatives protested at Malaysia Airlines' office in Beijing. Many accused Malaysian authorities of jumping the gun on confirmation and trying to tie a neat bow on an otherwise complicated investigation.
"What the Malaysians said were lies, all lies, just deception in a rush to close the case and evade their responsibility,” said Dai Shuqin, whose sister was on MH370.
The families of MH370 victims were not impressed by the idea of "strong supposition" or "maybe."
"The French and Boeing must say it is from MH370 without a doubt," read a statement posted on the official social-media account for MH370 relatives on China's Twitter-like Weibo. "We are not living in denial, but we owe it to our loved ones not to declare them lost without 100 percent certainty."
Elsewhere, Sara Weeks — whose brother Paul Weeks was a passenger — expressed frustration over the mixed messages and conflicting statements.
"Why the hell do you have one confirm and one not?" she told The Associated Press. "Why not wait and get everybody on the same page so the families don't need to go through this turmoil?"
Li Li, whose father was aboard MH370, was suspicious of the Malaysian prime minister's declaration.
"I wonder how credible the news is, how could they ever find that out," she said.
Li, 37, later told NBC News that she was trying to move on with her life but “the lack of closure and information about what happened is very upsetting and frustrating.
"A lot of times I just don’t know what to feel anymore,” Li said.
Steve Wang, leader of the MH370 family committee in China, told CNBC he too was "not completely convinced" that the debris was from the missing plane.
"It hurts to have to give up that last thread of hope"
"The French side's remarks are [only] strong supposition," said Wang, whose mother was on MH370. "I don't understand why — once again — the Malaysian side rushed to a conclusion and made such an announcement."
He said that even if the debris does turn out to be linked, "many questions" remain before the saga can draw to a close.
"Where is the main body of the plane? What on earth happened to it? Who caused it? Who should be held responsible? Who should be punished?" Wang asked. "We families demand the answers. This is just the beginning and it will be a long process to figure it all out."
Some relatives, though, took immediate solace from the declaration.
"Now that I know it’s for sure, I’m glad that they’ve at least found a part of the plane," Sondra Wood, whose son Phillip was on the plane, said in a statement. "Now we can begin the process of closure which has been very, very hard to do."
Phillip Wood's girlfriend, Sarah Bajc, said families "finally have the chance to grieve" after months of limbo.
"It hurts to have to give up that last thread of hope, but there is also a sad relief," she said in a statement.