Malaysian official announced Monday that the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370′ had crashed in the Indian Ocean, crashing the hopes of relatives of those on board but shedding no light on why the jet had changed its route.
Citing groundbreaking satellite-data analysis by the British company Inmarsat, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak claimed that the data showed the Malaysia Airlines plane flew along the southern search corridor.
“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 said. The analysis concluded that the plane’s last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that in light of this new data, MH370 flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” Mr. Najib said.
The statement by Malaysian Prime Minister may go some way toward tamping down some of the more fevered speculation about the plane’s fate, including one theory some grief-stricken relatives had seized on: that the plane had been hijacked and forced to land somewhere.
Nevertheless, while Mr. Najib said more details would be released at a press conference today, some aviation experts suggested that the planeâ€™s course â€“ 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.
Inmarsat had already revealed that it did indeed receive signals – automated “pings” – from the plane over its satellite network after the aircraft ceased radio and radar contact. And initial analysis showed the location of the final “ping” was probably along one of two vast arcs running north and south.
Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng immediately demanded all relevant satellite-data analysis from Malaysia that demonstrated how Malaysia had reached its conclusion about the fate of the jet. In a further sign the search was bearing fruit, the U.S. Navy was flying in its high-tech black box detector to the area, says Reuters.
As the Independent reports, Australian and Chinese planes both spotted possible debris in the hours before Monday’s dramatic announcement. Two objects â€“ one grey or green and circular, the other orange and rectangular â€“ were photographed by a Royal Australian Air Force P3 Orion, while a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 saw two â€śrelatively bigâ€ť objects and many white, smaller ones, dispersed over several square kilometres.
However, 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.
A text message sent to relatives ahead of Najib’s announcement said that “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… we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.”
The announcement touched off deep despair among relatives in both cities, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. The airline said the SMS message was used “only as an additional means of communicating with the families”.
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. â€śThis is a blow to us, and it is beyond description,â€ť she said.