Malaysia says flight MH370 crashed in sea

Data shows Malaysian Airlines jet ended in southern Indian Ocean, says Malaysian PM

Family members of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 cry after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, in the Lido hotel in Beijing, yesterday. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Family members of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 cry after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, in the Lido hotel in Beijing, yesterday. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters


The last hopes of finding survivors from the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft ended yesterday with the announcement it had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean with all lives lost.

A statement by Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak concluded an anguished 17-day wait for families of the 239 passengers and crew, who had longed for a miracle, but brought them no closer to understanding why flight MH370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8th. The location of the Boeing 777 also remains unknown despite an international hunt.

Ten aircraft are combing a huge patch of the southern Indian Ocean, about 2,500km southwest of the Australian city of Perth. More ships are on their way and the US is dispatching a specialised device to help locate aircraft flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

Analysis of satellite data
Mr Razak told a press conference that new analysis of satellite data showed the aircraft’s last position was over a remote area of the ocean west of Perth and far from any possible landing sites.

“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” he said, adding that further details would be issued today. “For [families] the past few weeks have been heart-breaking. I know this news must be harder still.”

Malaysia Airlines informed relatives of the news by text message about half an hour before the public statement. The company said that “the majority” were told in person and by phone.

The message – sent in English only, although two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese – read: “We deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived.”

Distraught relatives of Chinese passengers attacked Malaysia for announcing the loss of life without direct proof and for wasting the best chance to rescue those on board.

In a statement, they said the airline, Malaysian government and its military had “continually and extremely delayed, hidden and covered the facts, and attempted to deceive the passengers’ relatives, and people all over the world”.

That had not only devastated relatives but “misled, delayed the research and rescue, wasted a lot of manpower and material resources and we lost the most valuable rescue opportunity. If our 154 relatives lost their lives because of it, Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government, and the Malaysian military are [their] killers.”

Chinese maritime authorities announced they would send more vessels to search for wreckage in the region.

Hearing the worst
For some of the families, the agony of hearing the worst replaced the torment of uncertainty. “We accept the news of the tragedy. It is fate,” said Selamat Omar, from Kuala Lumpur, whose 29-year-old son was on the flight.

In China, however, where families have waited for news at a Beijing hotel, the anger was apparent. “The Malaysian government is not telling the truth,” one young woman shouted to journalists.

An older woman shouted: “It’s all nonsense: they don’t take lives seriously,” as a friend held her and urged bystanders to let her release her anger. Two relatives were carried out on stretchers, while others wept as they left the briefing room.

Investigators have indicated that the Beijing-bound flight was deliberately diverted just as it prepared to leave Malaysian airspace, turning west and re-crossing the Malay peninsula. Communications systems were disabled or stopped working at around the same time. But they say they have not ruled out any possible cause for the Boeing 777’s disappearance.

With no wreckage to examine and few facts available, the list of possible explanations offered by experts and amateurs alike has grown by the day: ranging from sabotage and hijacking to a heroic effort by pilots to cope with a catastrophe.

Yesterday, Chinese and Australian aircraft reported new sightings of items that could be linked to the aircraft, in an area where satellite imagery has shown possible debris.

Objects spotted
An Australian naval vessel is on its way to try to recover two objects spotted by the crew of the Australian aircraft.

A US Navy P8 Poseidon was unable to find items seen by a Chinese aircraft earlier in the day – two large objects and several smaller ones, spread across several square miles.

More ships are on their way despite weather forecasters warning of reduced visibility in the area.

The US Pacific Command has said it is sending a black box locator to the area in case a debris field is found.

The Towed Pinger Locator is pulled behind a vessel at slow speeds and can hear the signals emitted by the electronic beacon on the flight data and cockpit voice recorders to a depth of 6,100m.

– ( Guardia n service)