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MH370 crashed in Indian Ocean, no survivors: Malaysian PM

Last updated on: March 24, 2014 22:27 IST

MH370 crashed in Indian Ocean, no survivors: Malaysian PM

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The missing Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 people on board, including five Indians, crashed in remote southern Indian Ocean with no survivors and their families have been informed, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Monday, 17 days after the jet vanished mysteriously.

"With deep sadness and regret I must inform you that, according to new (satellite) data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," a grim-faced Najib, dressed in a symbolic black suit told a specially convened press conference held at 10 pm.

"For [families] the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. I know this must be the most heartbreaking of all," he said.

Malaysia Airlines in a separate statement offered prayers and condolences to everyone affected by the tragedy.

There is no official word yet on the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that went missing on March 8. Questions on the exact location of the plane and what brought it down remain to be answered.

Najib's announcement came on the fifth day of a multi-nation search effort in the southern Indian Ocean, with Australian and Chinese planes reporting spotting of several floating objects, about 2,500 km west of Perth.

Najib said he would hold a press conference on Tuesday, indicating that he will then come out with more information on MH370.

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Image: A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, at the Lido hotel in Beijing
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters

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Based on new analysis by United Kingdom's Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Inmarsat, the British company that provided satellite data, "we have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth," he said.

"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites."

"We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles guiding this investigation," he said.

Najib said Malaysia Airlines officials have already spoken to the families of the passengers and crew to inform them of the new development.

Many family members were informed by text message before Monday's briefing by the Malaysian premier began.

In Beijing, paramedics rushed to help relatives of Chinese passengers, who had been waiting at a hotel for the last two weeks. Wailing was heard as the families were informed of the news.

Malaysia's Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, said on Twitter that words could not describe how he felt, and promised the families in particular that "the search continue[d]".

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Image: Co-Pilot, Flying Officer Marc Smith, turns his Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion aircraft at low level in bad weather whilst searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean
Photographs: Richard Wainwright/Reuters

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Najib asked the media to respect privacy of relatives and allow them the space "they need at this difficult time".

Najib's announcement came 17 days after the Beijing-bound plane with 239 people, including five Indians, on board disappeared mysteriously from radar screens, one hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

The list of passengers on board included 154 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, sevem Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four Americans and two Canadians.

Indians, including three from one family, were identified as Chetna Kolekar, 55, Swanand Kolekar, 23, Vinod Kolekar, 59, Chandrika Sharma, 51, and Kranti Shirsatha, 44.

Malaysia Airlines said, "On behalf of all of us at Malaysia Airlines and all Malaysians, our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time."

"We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain. We will continue to provide assistance and support to you, as we have done since MH370 first disappeared in the early hours of 8 March, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing," it said.

The airlines said the ongoing multinational search operation will continue, as authorities seek answers to the questions which remain.

"Alongside the search for MH370, there is an intensive investigation, which we hope will also provide answers," it said.

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Image: An electronic billboard displays a message about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
Photographs: Rufus Cox/Getty Images

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Families of the Chinese passengers were in disbelief when they heard the news. A woman screamed, "How can they lose contact at 2am and still see the flight at 8am?"

Another relative said, "My son my daughter-in-law and granddaughter were all on board. All 3 family members are gone I am desperate."

Authorities believe that the plane was deliberately taken off-course after the communication system shutdown by someone on board.

Police have also interviewed more than 100 people, including the relatives of the pilot and the co-pilot to find out what may have caused the tragedy as they are looking at all possibilities, including hijacking, sabotage and terrorism.

Meanwhile, an Australian ship was trying to retrieve objects located in the southern Indian Ocean earlier in the day.

 Two objects -- the first grey or green and circular and the second orange and rectangular -- located by an Australian P3 Orion aircraft in the area, Australian Premier Tony Abbott said.

A Chinese Ilyushin-76 plane reported spotting "white and square" objects in the same location.

Chinese icebreaker Xuelong or Snow Dragon has changed course towards the area. Six more Chinese ships are on their way to the wider search location.

The US navy said it was rushing a 'black box detector' to the Indian Ocean as part of global efforts to find the crucial device, which could help find the exact cause of the crash.

The Towed Pinger Locator 25 of the US navy has the capacity to locate black boxes up to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet (6km), but it is essential to locate the debris area, Pentagon officials said.

French investigators said it was too soon to consider launching undersea searches for the remains of the plane.

France's BEA accident investigation service, which had sent three investigators to Kuala Lumpur, said the "extremely vast areas (involved) do not make it possible at this stage to consider undersea searches."


Image: The hunt for the plane entered its third week on Saturday
Photographs: Photographs: Rob Griffith-Pool/Getty Images

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