At a press briefing in Kuala Lumpur, a somber Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended its journey in the southern Indian Ocean -- presumably with no survivors -- based on credible new satellite data.
Reportedly, the newest information came from Inmarsat, a British satellite manufacturer, which utilized analysis never before tried. In total, three different countries have provided satellite imagery providing search parameters for debris from the aircraft.
"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” Razak said. “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.”
Authorities from 25+ countries have been searching for the missing jet for weeks. It disappeared March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew members onboard.
Prime Minister Razak acknowledged that the airline had contacted families with the tragic news and that the past few weeks had been “heartbreaking.” Relatives and friends with passengers or crew member onboard reportedly fainted, cried and screamed as they heard the news by telephone, in person, and in some cases, by text message.
The text message said: "Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.”
A statement by Malaysia Airlines today said: “It is with deep sadness that Malaysia Airlines earlier this evening had to confirm to the families of those on board Flight MH370 that it must now be assumed the flight had been lost. As the Prime Minister said, respect for the families is essential at this difficult time. And it is in that spirit that we informed the majority of the families in advance of the Prime Minister’s statement in person and by telephone. SMSs were used only as an additional means of communicating with the families. “Those families have been at the heart of every action the company has taken since the flight disappeared on 8th March and they will continue to be so. When Malaysia Airlines receives approval from the investigating authorities, arrangements will be made to bring the families to the recovery area and until that time, we will continue to support the ongoing investigation.”
The plane took off from Kuala Lumpur, flew over the South China Sea and was not heard from again. But apparently, at some pont, it turned around, headed back over the Malay Peninsula and into the Indian Ocean. After detailed analysis, various radar, technical and satellite clues have shown that the plane apparently flew on for up to seven hours, presumably when it ran out of fuel.
The search has been difficult and hampered by confusing clues, speculative theories and lack of evidence. At first, the search area was the South China Sea, then the Andaman Sea, then along an arc that extended to central Asia and south into the south Indian Ocean off Australia.
Razak said Inmarsat performed calculation on data using a new type of analysis. Both Inmarsat and the British Accidents Investigation Branch believe Flight 370 flew southward and its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, more than 1,000 miles west of Perth.
Over the weekend and today, search planes have spotted suspicious objects that could be aircraft wreckage. But no wreckage has yet to be hauled out of the ocean by ship.
At this point, there is no "one theory" for the accident cause. It could have been terrorism, a hijacking, sabotage, mechanical or structural failure, an onboard fire, crew issues or many other factors -- or a combination of those as is often the discovery in accident investigations.
It’s hoped the airplane's black box can be recovered to provide more clues and that pieces of debris could help bring closure to the families; some still hold out hope the plane landed safely in a remote locale. The U.S. military is sending an aircraft to the area with equipment that can detect a black box ping from 20,000 feet down.
Malaysia Airlines also said in its statement today that the “ongoing multi-national 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.”