All Lives are Lost, Malaysia Airlines Ends Hope for Relatives of Passengers
KUALA LUMPUR: After 17 days of waiting in agony, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak Monday night announced that the flight path of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
He made the announcement following the analysis by the Inmarsat, a British satellite telecommunications provider and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) both of which have concluded that the missing Malaysian Airlines flight went down in the southern Indian Ocean near Perth “with no possible landing sites”.
The news is a major breakthrough in the unprecedented two-week struggle to find out what happened to Flight 370, which disappeared shortly after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew aboard on March 8.
Dressed in a black suit, Najib announced the news in a brief statement to reporters late Monday night, saying the information was based on an unprecedented analysis of satellite data from Inmarsat.
He said the data indicated the plane flew “to 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.”
He said Malaysia Airlines has informed the families of passengers of the plane’s fate.
Moments before the Najib Razak’s statement to world media, families of the passengers were sent a text message from Malaysian Airlines explaining it was likely there were “no survivors”.
The text read: We have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. ..We must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Such was the level of shock in the Beijing hotel where some families were told face-to-face by officials, medical equipment and stretchers were sent into the conference room as loved ones heard the news.
The prime minister said that Inmarsat had used the most advanced technology available to confirm that the airline had been in the air almost eight hours after it was believed that it had crashed.
Inmarsat had earlier announced that the ill-fated aircraft sent out “keep-alive messages” establishing that the plane’s communications system were still switched on hours after civilian radars lost contact with it.
Inmarsat said the missing plane was equipped with one of its signalling systems which actually sent out a barrage of messages much after it was lost to the world.
Razak said Inmarsat used a “type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort”.
A multinational force has searched a wide swath of Asia trying to find the plane.
MH370 vanished without warning on March 8 while flying over the South China Sea en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Malaysia believes the plane was deliberately diverted by someone on board. But the absence of firm evidence has fuelled intense speculation and conspiracy theories, and tormented the families of the missing.
The search swung deep into the Indian Ocean last week after initial satellite images depicted large floating objects there, and further sightings of possible debris in the area energised the massive, multinational operation.
It has not yet been confirmed that the debris spotted in the area is from MH370, and officials have voiced caution. It is also still unclear why the plane ended up so far off course over the southern Indian Ocean.
– Hunt for ‘black box’ –
The US Navy has added to the sense of an approaching denouement, ordering a specialised device sent to the region to help find the “black box” flight and cockpit voice data — crucial in determining what happened to the plane.
The high-tech device can locate black boxes as deep as 20,000 feet (6,060 metres), the US Seventh Fleet said in a statement. The search area ranges from 3,000-4,000 metres deep.
The 30-day signal from the black box is due to fail in less than two weeks.
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