Flight MH370 crashed in ocean, no survivors

22:48, 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 devastated relatives of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 must assume the plane is "lost" and the flight crashed in the Indian Ocean, the Malaysian prime minister says.

The families were called to meetings this morning to be told the fate of flight MH370, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people, including two New Zealanders, aboard the flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

Those who could not attend received a text message or phone call from the airline confirming the terrible news.

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.

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.

"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."

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MH370 announcement
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 cries after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, in the Lido hotel in Beijing.
MH370 announcement
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (centre) makes an announcement on the latest development on the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane. "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."
MH370 announcement
A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 falls down an escalator as he cries after the news that the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean and there were no survivors.
MH370 announcement
Selamat Omar (right), father of flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, sits next to his wife Rosila Abu Samah as he speaks on the phone at the hotel where he and other relatives of passengers are staying.
MH370 announcement
A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries after watching a television broadcast of a news conference where Malaysia's PM announced the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
MH370 announcement
Medical personnel transport a family member who collapsed after hearing all hope was lost of finding survivors of MH370.
MH370 announcement
Family members of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 look out from a room as they cry after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, in the Lido hotel in Beijing.
MH370 announcement
A man cries after hearing the Malaysian prime minister's announcement.
MH370
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is cared for after fainting at the Lido Hotel.
MH370
A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 shouts at journalists after hearing the news that all hope had been lost of finding survivors of MH370.
MH370 reactino
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leaves on a stretcher after fainting at Lido Hotel.
MH370 announcement
The man is comforted by another grieving family member.

Families have been booked on chartered flights to Perth. 

Najib said in a first, "pings" sent out by the plane had been pieced together to shed more light on its flight path.

According to this data, provided to UK officials by London-based satellite company Inmarsat, the plane flew for more than seven hours after it had turned back from its scheduled flight path over the South China Sea.

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>

Officials said it was likely the plane ran out fuel before crashing. It is not known whether the pilots were still in control during the long flight into the Indian Ocean.

In Beijing, where relatives of the missing had gathered at a hotel to hear the latest update, screams could be heard as the news was delivered. A steady stream of paramedics brought in stretchers.

Soon after, family members left the room wailing, with some collapsing on the floor and refusing to get up. One man threw himself on to an escalator and refused to move.

One elderly woman burst out of the room wailing, crying out for her son, her daughter-in-law and her grandchild who were onboard the plane.

"My whole family is gone," she screamed, as loved ones and police struggled to restrain her.

A woman collapsed and fell on her knees, crying: "My son! My son!".

"I don't want to get up. I don't want to go home. I don't want to go anywhere," she said.

One man with a shaved head and wearing a blue and white striped top threw himself down an escalator, and had to be helped up onto his feet by reporters and police.

Amid the outpouring of grief was a potent sense of anger and disbelief. For more than a fortnight, families had clung onto hope in the face of a bungling investigation which encompassed stolen passports, terrorist plots, hijacking theories, malevolent pilots, and satellite data which suggested the plane could have flown for hours in two completely different directions.

In a separate statement, Malaysia Airlines said its "prayers go out to all the loved ones... at this enormously painful time".

"We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain," the statement said.

The airline said it hoped the continued search would provide more answers.

Meanwhile, China's foreign ministry said it was demanding the release of all the information held by the Malaysian government following the announcement. It wanted to know how it had reached such a "conclusion".

New Zealand would continue its part in the southern Indian Ocean search, Prime Minister John Key said this morning.

TEXT MESSAGE CAUSES CONFUSION

Even before the prime minister made his announcement, Malaysia Airlines sent a text message to passenger families, stating it "deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived".

The message was sent in English, merely compounding the confusion among Chinese families.

The airline later defended sending the text messages, saying all efforts were made to contact all families to inform them in person beforehand. Others were angered by the abrupt nature and brevity of Mr Najib's statement, which deferred to a further press conference to be held today."I've been waiting half a month, and they just give us one sentence?" one woman said.

OBJECTS FOUND

The Inmarsat analysis will allow the massive search area in the Indian Ocean, which can be as deep as 7000 metres, to be narrowed.

Searchers will now be able to calculate how far the plane could have flown with the fuel it had on board.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his country's parliament overnight night that a RAAF P-3 Orion aircraft had located two new objects at about 2.45pm local time on Monday.

Abbott said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) had advised him the Orion crew had seen a grey or green circular object as well as an orange rectangular object, both of which were separate to the objects spotted by a Chinese aircraft, in the Indian Ocean.

Abbott said he did not know if the objects were from the flight, but recovery efforts continued.

HMAS Success was on the scene and was trying to recover the objects, while a US navy P8 Poseidon aircraft, as well as a second Australian Orion and a Japanese Orion aircraft were on their way to the area.

The objects reported by the Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 to AMSA earlier yesterday were seen floating in the southern Indian Ocean as the crew returned to Perth from the search area, according to official news agency Xinhua.

However, a US Poseidon was unable to find them again.

The Chinese Air Force flight was first Chinese air search since two of its military aircraft arrived in Perth on Saturday.

At the request of the Australian Air Force, one Australian pilot was on board the Chinese plane, Xinhua reported.

The focus of the multinational search shifted to the southern Indian Ocean last Thursday after Australia said satellite imagery identified suspicious debris that might be linked to the missing plane in waters some 2400km from Perth.

China and France released further satellite imagery over the weekend showing objects in the same region which could be linked to the missing flight.

- Fairfax and AP