KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia announced on Monday night that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8 while travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was lost in the southern Indian Ocean.
MAS informed families of the 239 passengers and crew members that the plane was assumed to have crashed with no survivors.
"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,'' the airline said in a SMS message.
"We must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean,"
Shortly after, Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed a press briefing that was hastily scheduled.
"This evening I was briefed by representatives from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). 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. 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," he told reporters.
"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,'' said Mr Najib.
He said MAS has briefed the families and Malaysia will hold another press conference on Tuesday. He urged the media to respect the families' privacy and to give them space and time to grieve over their losses.
"For them, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking; I know this news must be harder still. I urge the media to respect their privacy, and to allow them the space they need at this difficult time," he said.
"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.
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after take-off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8.
No confirmed sighting of the plane has been made since, but much debris has been found in remote waters off Australia which might be part of the missing plane.
MAS said on Monday night that the multinational search operation will continue, as authorities seek answers to the questions which remain.
"We would like to assure you that Malaysia Airlines will continue to give you our full support throughout the difficult weeks and months ahead,'' it added.