Families of those on board missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were told that everyone is believed to have perished as the plane went into the southern Indian Ocean.
“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia’s Prime Minister, new analysis of satellite data suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean,” the airline sent in a text message to families before Prime Minister Najib Razak spoke this evening.
“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.”
Malaysia Airlines said “the ongoing multinational search operation will continue, as we seek answers to the questions which remain. Alongside the search for MH370, there is an intensive investigation, which we hope will also provide answers.”
Investigators do know that there was a sharp turn back over the Malaysian peninsula and sharp altitude changes after the ACARS datalink system and transponder were shut off. There was no mayday communication from the pilots, and the plane disappeared as it transferred from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace. The final signoff was “All right, goodnight.”
Razak said in a late-night press conference today that he had been briefed by representatives from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
“They informed me that Inmarsat, the UK company that provided the satellite data which indicated the northern and southern corridors, has been performing further calculations on the data,” the prime minister said. “…Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB 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. This is a remote location, 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.”
Razak said more details would be forthcoming in a Tuesday press conference. Kuala Lumpur is 12 hours ahead of Washington, D.C.
“In the meantime, we wanted to inform you of this new development at the earliest opportunity. We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation,” he added.
UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: The families of the Chinese passengers on board MH370 released a joint statement charging the Malaysian government with making its statement “without any direct evidence that MH370 crashed in the south Indian ocean and no people survived.”
“From March 8 when they announced that MH370 lost contact to today, 18 days have passed during which the Malaysian government and military constantly tried to delay, deceive the passengers’ families and cheat the whole world,” the statement continues. “This shameless behaviour not only fooled and hurt the families of the 154 passengers but also misguided and delayed rescue actions, wasting a large quantity of human resources and materials and lost valuable time for the rescue effort. If the 154 passengers did lose their lives, Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government and military are the real executioners who killed them. We the families of those on board submit our strongest protest against them. We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and responsibility of all three.”