Malaysia’s PM said Monday that further analysis of satellite data confirmed that the missing Malaysian airliner went down in the southern Indian Ocean with its passengers and crew. The announcement narrowed the search area but left many questions unanswered about why it flew to such a remote part of the world.
Experts had previously held out the possibility that the jet could have flown north instead, toward Central Asia, but the new data showed that it could have gone only south, said the PM, Najib Razak.
Najib appeared eager to bring some finality to the families of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, two-thirds of them Chinese citizens. The families have grown increasingly angry about the lack of clear information about the plane’s fate. The Boeing 777, with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board, was headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared on March 8.
The aircraft’s last known position, according to the analysis, “is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” Najib 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.”
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The new analysis of the flight path, the PM said, came from Inmarsat, the British company that provided the satellite data, and from Britain’s air safety agency. The company had “used a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort,” he said.
Shortly before the prime minister spoke at 10 pm local time, Malaysia Airlines officials informed relatives of the missing passengers and crew about the conclusion. Most were told in person or by telephone, the airline said, and some were sent a text message: “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.”
The hunt for the missing plane has focused on a section of the southern Indian Ocean in recent days, and an Australian naval vessel searched there on Monday after a military surveillance aircraft spotted what was described as possible debris from the missing jetliner.
Najib said the Malaysian authorities would hold a news conference on Tuesday to give further details about the satellite data analysis and other developments.
After his announcement, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement demanding to see the analysis that led to Najib’s announcement.
“We have already asked that the Malaysian side go further in providing all the information and evidence used to reach this conclusion,” said the statement from Hong Lei, a spokesman for the ministry.
“China’s search work is still continuing,” the statement said. “We hope that the Malaysian side and other countries will also be able to continue their search work.”