Missing plane familes texted 'it's lost' news
Some relatives of those on board MH370 learned in a heart-breaking text message that the missing passenger jet was believed to have ditched into the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 on board.
Malaysia Airlines sent the message to the relatives of those on board the plane, 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 and Chinese.
Shortly before the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak made the announcement at a briefing at 10pm in Kuala Lumpur (3am NZT), Malaysia Airlines said its officials informed relatives of the missing passengers and crew.
The airline said most of those people were informed in person or by telephone, but some were sent a text message.
The text message read: "Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived.
''As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."
Both the Malaysian government and Malaysia Airlines have been criticised during the two-week investigation into the disappearance of MH370.
The airline later defended sending the text messages, saying all efforts were made to contact all families to inform them in person beforehand.
At Beijing's Lido Hotel, harrowing scenes of grief and distress unfolded as about 50 or so relatives watched Najib's announcement in the hotel's cordoned-off conference room.
One elderly woman burst out of the room wailing, crying out for her son, her daughter-in-law and her grandchild who were on board the plane.
"My whole family is gone," she screamed, as loved ones and police struggled to restrain her.
"My son, my son, my son," another woman was heard yelling.
Others were angered by the abrupt nature and brevity of Najib's statement, which deferred to a further press conference to be held later today.
"I've been waiting half a month, and they just give us one sentence?" one woman said.
At least two people were wheeled out on stretchers and taken to hospital.
The Malaysian transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, later tweeted his sympathy for the families of the passengers and crew on MH370.
I truly understand there are no words which could console the family members of #MH370. The whole world is with you in these difficult times
In these times of grief, I urge the public to give the family members some space, respect their privacy #MH370
Sydney Morning Herald