Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak seemed to bring to the mystery over missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 to an end Monday night, in a statement indicating he believed the flight had crashed.
"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," Razak said.
The new data to which Razak referred was a series of radar images tracked by International Marine Satellites (InMarSat), but not on any positive identification of debris in the area off western Australia, despite searches being conducted in that area on Monday. Bad weather in the area has cancelled air searches for Tuesday, although some ships were still moving towards the area.
Some families were briefed before the announcement by Malaysian officials. Others were told via text message addressed from Prime Minister Razak:
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.
"Our collective hearts are hurting now. Please lift all the loved ones of MH370 with your good thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your continued support and for being our inspiration," reads a post on the Finding Philip Wood Facebook page, dedicated to American passenger Philip Wood, in reaction to the Prime Minister's statement.
239 passengers and crew, 152 of whom are from China and Taiwan, remain missing. A full list of non-Chinese passengers categorized by nationality is here. A full list of passengers including Chinese names can be found here.
Among the missing Beijing residents, based on the official passenger list published by Malaysia Airlines, are:
Bai Xiaomo and Muktesh Mukherjee. The only Canadians aboard MH370, the couple are traveling without their two children, who attend a Beijing international school. The couple met in Beijing, moved to Montreal, and then later returned to Beijing, according to CBC News. Friends and neighbors of the couple contacted by the Beijinger declined to comment, given the continued unknown status of the flight.
Laurence Wattrelos, Ambre Wattrelos, Hadrien Wattrelos, and Zhao Yan. All four are the only French citizens aboard the flight. Mother Laurence is active in the parent-teacher association of the Lycee Francais International de Pekin, also known as the French School, where Ambre, Hadrien, and family friend Zhao Yan are all enrolled, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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