Kuala Lumpur : It is understood that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 people on board — including five Indians — went down in a remote part of the Indian Ocean. There were no survivors.
“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 Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday.
Experts had previously held out the possibility that the plane could have headed north towards Central Asia. Relatives of passengers and crew have been informed of the ‘heartbreaking’ news, Razak added.
The new data was furnished by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch and satellite tracking firm Inmarsat.
However, there is no official word yet on the wreckage of the Boeing 777-200 that went missing on March 8. Questions about the exact location of the plane and what brought it down also remain to be answered.
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after take-off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. Authorities believe that the plane was deliberately taken off-course after the communication system was shut down by someone on board. The police have also interviewed more than 100 people, including the relatives of the pilot and the co-pilot to find out what may have caused the tragedy as they are looking at all possibilities, including hijacking, sabotage and terrorism.
The announcement about the crash came on the fifth day of a multi-nation search effort in the southern Indian Ocean. The breakthrough came with Australian and Chinese planes spotting several floating objects, about 2,500 km west of Perth.
Based on the new data, “we 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,” the Malaysian Prime Minister said. “This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles guiding this investigation,” Razak said. Many family members were informed by text message before the briefing by Malaysian Premier began.
In Beijing, paramedics rushed to help relatives of Chinese passengers, who had been waiting at a hotel for the last two weeks.
Wails were heard as the families were informed of the news.
Razak asked media to respect privacy of relatives and allow them the space “they need at this difficult time”.
The Indians on board included three from one family: they were identified as Chetna Kolekar, 55, Swanand Kolekar, 23, Vinod Kolekar, 59, Chandrika Sharma, 51, and Kranti Shirsatha, 44.
Families of the Chinese passengers were in disbelief when they heard the news. A woman screamed, “How can they lose contact at 2am and still see the flight at 8am?” Another relative said, “My son, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter were all on board. All 3 family members are gone.”
The US Navy on Monday said it was rushing a ‘black box detector’ to the Indian Ocean as part of global efforts to find the crucial device, which could help find the exact cause of the crash.
French investigators said it was too soon to consider launching undersea searches for the remains of the plane.