Kuala Lumpur: 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 today, 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
An angry relative gestures after hearing the news that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 plunged into the Indian Ocean at a hotel in Beijing on Monday. Pic/AFP
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 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 today's briefing by Malaysian Premier began.
He said at a press conference here that British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have confirmed that the flight of Malaysia Airlines "flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean".
According to Razak, Immarsat, the company that indicated the plane flew along either a northern or southern corridor, has managed to trace the jetliner's final flight path using sophisticated technology.
"Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370's flight path," Prime Minister Razak said.
He said that Malaysia Airlines, together with AAIB, determined that the Boeing 777-200ER flew along the southern corridor, and its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.
"With deep sadness and regret I m,ust inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," Razak said.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.
The plane was initially presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea. The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6.30 a.m. the same day.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 with 239 people, including five Indians and an Indo-Canadian, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians, went missing on March 8, one hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
Contact with the plane was lost along with its radar signal at 1.40 a.m. when it was flying over the air traffic control area of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.