'We were all hoping for a miracle'

22:45, Mar 24 2014
Inside the search for MH370
Loadmasters Sergeant Adam Roberts (L) and Flight Sergeant John Mancey launching a water-activated buoy from the Hercules C-130J.
Inside the search for MH370
Loadmasters Sergeant Adam Roberts (L) and Flight Sergeant John Mancey launching a water-activated buoy from the Hercules C-130J.
Inside the search for MH370
Loadmasters Sergeant Adam Roberts (L) and Flight Sergeant John Mancey launching a water-activated buoy from the Hercules C-130J.
Perth
The crew of one of two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft used in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk away from their plane in Perth.

The official conclusion that missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean looks to be the end of hope, a friend of New Zealand passenger Paul Weeks says.

The families were called to meetings this morning to be told the fate of the plane, which vanished on March 8 while travelling  from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

New satellite analysis showed MH370 flew along the southern flight corridor identified by searchers and its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth, representatives of the British Air Investigation Branch had told Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The MH370 story in pictures
The saga begins on March 8, when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 departs Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am, local time. On board are 227 passengers and 12 crew.
The MH370 story in pictures
Captaining the flight of the Boeing 777-200 is 53-year old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, shown here on the right.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 1:21am the MH370's transponder stops signalling, halting the regular responses it usually gives to radar signals. The plane makes a series of strange but controlled movements, turning west sharply, then climbing above its designed height limit and back down.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 1.30am, on point 4, the plane is spotted for the last time on civilian radar. At 2.15am, on point 5, military radar spots it, although it is not clear at the time that this was MH370. Satellite data suggests the plane could also have angled towards point 6.
The MH370 story in pictures
At 6.32am air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur sends a radio signal on an emergency channel asking MH370 to contact them. The plane is now overdue at Beijing Airport, shown.
The MH370 story in pictures
Relatives of passengers despair, and the search begins.
The MH370 story in pictures
International news media focus on the story immediately.
The MH370 story in pictures
Multiple false leads pop up, like this oil spotted by a Vietnamese search plane.
The MH370 story in pictures
Malaysian government and airline officials have released confusing and contradictory information. Here, Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, left, and Department of Civil Aviation director general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman take questions at a press conference.
The MH370 story in pictures
Concerns are raised when it becomes apparent that two Iranian men, shown here, boarded the plane with stolen passports. Interpol rejects the suggestion of terrorism, however, concluding the men were probably asylum seekers.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
The search intensifies, covering new areas with a wide array of international support.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
Outpourings of grief and support are expressed worldwide.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
The anguish of the relatives is palpable.
The MH370 story in pictures
Theories abound. Fellow pilot Chris Goodfellow has suggested that a tyre may have caught fire, causing the pilots to turn towards the closest suitable airport, with the rapid ascent and descent perhaps representing an attempt to extinguish the fire. Critics of this theory have pointed out that the change in path was programmed into the plane's computer 12 minutes before the calm toned "good night" transmission, suggesting the change in course was planned.
The MH370 story in pictures
Given the amount of fuel on board, the plane could have made it as far north as Kazakhstan, on a possible flight path shown in orange.
The MH370 story in pictures
Or somewhere southwest of Australia, on a possible flight path shown in orange.
The MH370 story in pictures
Others have speculated that the pilot or co-pilot may have intentionally crashed the plane. The FBI is trying to restore deleted simulator-flights from Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's computer – but these could be innocuous. Critics of the crash theory say neither the pilot nor co-pilot had ever expressed any kind of radical sentiment or displayed mental issues, and both possessed adequate flying experience.
The MH370 story in pictures
The ever-present worry of terrorism remains. No groups have claimed responsibility for the incident, and a political motivation is unclear - but that doesn't rule it out.
MH370
On March 20, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his parliament that objects had been spotted in waters hundreds of kilometres off the western Australian coast. Further searches, by Australian, New Zealand and US planes, were needed to find out if they were part of the missing plane.
Perth
The crew of one of two Chinese Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft used in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk away from their plane in Perth.
MH370 search
Thirty-eight days after the plane went missing, an Australian navy ship is guided into position by a Royal New Zealand Airforce P-3K2 Orion aircraft. Officials say they will deploy an underwater robot to aid in the hunt.
MH370
Announcing that an underwater drone will be deployed imminently, Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre chief Angus Houston says an oil slick has been detected in the search area for the missing plane.

"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites," Najib said today.

"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."

Families have been booked on chartered flights to Perth.

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Weeks
PAUL WEEKS: The family man was one of two New Zealanders among the 239 people on board the flight when it went missing.

Weeks, 38, his wife Danica and sons Lincoln and Jack, had moved to Perth from Christchurch in search for a better life.

He was on MH370 from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to the Chinese capital Beijing on March 8, on his way to Mongolia for a new job in the mining industry.

He was one of two New Zealanders among the 239 passengers and crew on board the flight. The other was 50-year-old Auckland man Ximin Wang, whose family have asked for privacy.

Search for MH370
Australia is leading a search of the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet. | <a target=_blank href="http://static.stuff.co.nz/files/debrisgraphic.jpg"><b>Click here for full-size graphic</b></a>

"I guess we were all hoping for a miracle, we were all hoping that the plane had been hijacked and headed up north," Weeks' friend Jamie Sayers of Christchurch said today.

"I guess up till now there was always a chance that Paul and the passengers were potentially going to survive it and come out of this.

"I think this is obviously the end of that hope."

Sayers had not spoken to Danica today, but had sent her a text.

"I'm sure she's absolutely gutted and heartbroken," he said.

Although he was sure she would never say so, the news today could be a way for her to start a real grieving process.

Sayers said he had spoken to her in Perth a few days ago.

"She's got a lot of support, a lot of friends, a lot of family," he said.

"Danica is a realist, but whenever you've got a loved one involved you hold on to anything. I think, because there were so many scenarios and there was very little evidence.

"From my point of view I thought anything potentially was possible.

"I guess because they started sending all of that stuff down south, I think there's maybe a lot of info out there that wasn't shared in the public domain, otherwise they wouldn't have sent the amount of assets they sent down there."

Sayers said he had been phoning friends, including some in Britain, this morning.

"We're all pretty gutted this news has come out," he said.

One of his and Paul's good friends in Britain had not even been able to talk on the phone this morning.

"He's pretty gutted, he's got his wedding in a month's time."

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