Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday that the flight from his country that has been missing for more than two weeks “ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” without any potential survivors.
The announcement scuttled any hope that relatives of the 239 passengers on board the missing jetliner had about the possibility of their family members surviving.
“Based on the new analysis ... [investigators] 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 chief executive said in a televised news conference.
“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” the prime minister continued. “It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”
“We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation,” he said.
Aviation experts had long said it was unlikely that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 landed safely as evidence mounted that the plane was last in flight over the southern Indian Ocean.
Some relatives had maintained hope based on the fact that remnants of the plane have not been located, despite a multinational search that has lasted longer than two weeks.
Officials from France, Australian and China all said over the weekend that they have identified potential debris from the missing plane in the Indian Ocean, which is more than 1,000 miles from where the flight was last detected by air traffic controllers.
Malaysia Air Flight 370 was last contacted about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
Investigators initially believed the plane had crashed into the Gulf of Thailand, where it was located when its pilots last had radio contact with air traffic controllers.
Officials later came to believe the plane’s radar equipment was intentionally turned off and the jet flew several hours after backtracking from its intended flight path.
The search has focused on the Indian Ocean in recent days after investigators discovered signals that were sent from the plane’s jet engines and later found satellite images they believed could be related to the flight’s disappearance.