Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: ‘Beyond doubt’ that the jet crashed, says Malaysian PM, after new analysis shows plane 'ended flight in middle of Indian Ocean' with no survivors

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said plane came down in 'remote location far from any possible landing site'

Nearly 17 days after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off into the Kuala Lumpur night, then vanished off radar screens, families of the 239 passengers and crew received the news they had dreaded: the plane had crashed in a remote corner of the Indian Ocean and everyone on board had perished.

(Click on map above to enlarge)

The fate of those on the Beijing-bound plane – two-thirds of them Chinese – was relayed by the airline through the startlingly brusque medium of a text message. It informed relatives that “we have to assume beyond reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board  survived”.

In Beijing, there were harrowing scenes at the Lido Hotel, where Malaysian officials held a private briefing for family members. Loved ones wept uncontrollably, and one woman collapsed, crying: “My son, my son!” Two of the grief-stricken were carried out on stretchers. Some lunged in anger at the TV cameras waiting outside.

In Kuala Lumpur, a sombre-faced Najib Razak, the Malaysian Prime Minister, announced that data collected and analysed by the British satellite company Inmarsat had revealed that the plane’s last position was “the middle of the Indian Ocean … a remote location, far from any possible landing sites”.

"Malaysia Airlines has already spoken to the family of the passengers and crew to inform them of this development," Mr Najib said.

"For them the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. I know this news must be hard as well."

 

The implication was clear: all on board were dead. After an excruciatingly long wait, relatives – and a mystified world – finally had some certainty. But the key question – why MH370 flew thousands of miles off course before running out of fuel and crashing – remained unanswered. Really, this was not the end of the story: it was the beginning.

Mr Najib, who said he had been briefed by Britain’s Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB), noted that the same Inmarsat data had earlier enabled investigators to narrow the search to two broad “corridors”: a northern one, stretching over to central Asia, and a southern one, extending towards Antarctica.

Inmarsat had performed new calculations on the data, the Prime Minister said, and “using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort … [had] 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.”

While Mr Najib said more details would be released at a press conference today, some aviation experts suggested that the plane’s course – and the fact it flew for many hours after diverting from its path - indicated that a skilled pilot had been in charge, making a hijacking or terrorism scenario far less likely.

All that will remain conjecture, though, unless and until the wreckage of the Boeing 777, and its “black box” – the cockpit recorder – are found.

Read more: Now we know the plane came down, what's the task ahead?

Although that is still a daunting task, for the planes and ships scouring the remote, inhospitable waters between Australia and Antarctica, the satellite data – together with calculations of how far the plane could fly on its fuel, and data about ocean currents – will help to assist them in narrowing the search area, about 2,500 kilometres south-west of Perth, experts said.

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Australian and Chinese planes both spotted possible debris in the hours before Monday's dramatic announcement.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) makes an announcement on the latest development on the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) makes an announcement on the latest development on the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane

Two objects – one grey or green and circular, the other orange and rectangular – were photographed by a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion, while a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 saw two “relatively big” objects and many white, smaller ones, dispersed over several square kilometres.

The US Navy, meanwhile, is flying in its high-tech black box detector, so it can be immediately used if wreckage is found. Search crews are racing against time, since the black box’s battery life will run out after about 30 days. If the it is not recovered, what happened aboard Flight 370 may never be known.

The US Pacific command said the Towed Pinger Locator, which is pulled behind a vessel at slow speeds, has highly sensitive listening capability so that if the wreck site is located, it can hear the black box pinger down to a depth of about 20,000 feet.

Commander Chris Budde, a US Seventh Fleet operations officer, said: "This movement is simply a prudent effort to preposition equipment and trained personnel closer to the search area so that if debris is found we will be able to respond as quickly as possible since the battery life of the black box's pinger is limited."

Although relatives had feared the worst, some had still hoped against hope that hijackers had brought the plane down at some isolated airfield and that those on board were still alive.

Nan Jinyan, whose brother-in-law, Yan Ling, was on the flight, said she feared dire news when she learnt that the Malaysian Prime Minister was to deliver a statement. “This is a blow to us, and it is beyond description,” she said.

Speaking on the fifth day of the international search effort focused in an area around 2,000km west of the Australian coast, the Malaysian prime minister made no reference to debris spotted in the southern Indian Ocean, with several grey or green, white and orange objects spotted in the search area now identified as the region where the jet came down.

Earlier, the Malaysia transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said that an Australian naval ship could locate possible debris within hours.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) confirmed that the HMAS Success had made its way out to the remote search area some 2,500km (1,550 miles) from Perth, and that the objects were seen within the stretch of water being scoured today.

READ MORE:  SPOTTER PLANES FAIL TO FIND ANY SIGN OF JET 
DEBRIS IN INDIAN OCEAN SPOTTED BY SATELLITE 
FOLLOWING IN THE TRAIL OF THE LOST PLANE

"HMAS Success is on scene and is attempting to locate and recover these objects," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement to parliament.

So far, ships in the search effort have been unable to locate several "suspicious" objects spotted by satellites in grainy images or by fast-flying aircraft over a vast search area in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

Earlier on Monday spotters on a Chinese plane said they had seen two white, square-shaped objects in the southern Indian Ocean, at that stage the second possible sighting of plane debris made with the naked eye in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.

Spotters aboard that search plane reported the coordinates to a Chinese icebreaker ship, Xue Long, which was making its way to the area - as well as to the central Australian command centre.

In addition to the two larger floating objects, the searchers also reported seeing a range of smaller, white debris scattered over several square miles, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

The sightings were all made in the area identified in previous satellite images from Australia and China.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Analyst - London - £38,000

£30000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Data Analyst - Lon...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester...

IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

£20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

Learning Support Assistants-Nantwich area

£8 - £9 per hour: Randstad Education Chester: We are currently recruiting for ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London