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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A new analysis of satellite data indicates the flight of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane “ended” in a remote corner of the Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday.
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.
Monday, March 24, 10:15 PM MYT +0800 Malaysia Airlines MH370 Flight Incident – Media Statement 23
Note: The communication below was shared with the family members of passengers and crew of MH370
Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia’s Prime Minister, new analysis of satellite data suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean. On behalf of all of us at Malaysia Airlines and all Malaysians, our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time.
We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain. We will continue to provide assistance and support to you, as we have done since MH370 first disappeared in the early hours of 8 March, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The ongoing multinational 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. We would like to assure you that Malaysia Airlines will continue to give you our full support throughout the difficult weeks and months ahead.
Once again, we humbly offer our sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy.
In Beijing, relatives shrieked and sobbed uncontrollably and men and women held up their loved ones when they heard the news. Their grief came pouring out after days of waiting for definitive word on the fate of their relatives aboard the missing plane.
The family members in Beijing had been called to a hotel near the airport to hear the announcement. Afterward, they filed out of a conference room in heart-wrenching grief.One woman collapsed and fell on her knees, crying “My son! My son!”
In Kuala Lumpur, Selamat Omar, the father of a 29-year-old aviation engineer who was on the flight, said some members of families of other passengers broke down in tears at the news.
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.
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.
We will be holding a press conference tomorrow with further details. In the meantime, 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.
Malaysia Airlines have already spoken to the families of the passengers and crew to inform them of this development. 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.
Report compiled with information from Xinhua and The Associated Press.