BEIRUT

World

Malaysia says jet crashed in Indian Ocean

A family member of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 cries as she is surrounded by journalists after watching a television broadcast of a news conference, at the Lido hotel in Beijing, March 24, 2014. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said Monday that a missing jetliner had crashed into the Indian Ocean, an announcement that was greeted with hysteria by Chinese relatives of those on board and a demand by China that Kuala Lumpur share all the evidence it had on the incident.

Citing groundbreaking satellite-data analysis by the British company Inmarsat, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished more than a fortnight ago while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.

His statement may go some way toward tamping down some of the fevered speculation about the plane’s fate, including one theory some grief-stricken relatives had seized on: that the plane had been hijacked and forced to land somewhere.

All 239 people on board were presumed dead, airline officials said.

Najib’s announcement opens the way for what could be one of the most costly and challenging air crash investigations in history.

The launch of an official air crash investigation would give Malaysia power to coordinate and sift evidence, but it may still face critics, especially China, which had more than 150 citizens on board the missing plane and has criticized Malaysia over the progress of the search. The Inmarsat data showed the Boeing 777’s last position was in the Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia, Najib said in a statement.

“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” he said. “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.”

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng immediately demanded all relevant satellite-data analysis from Malaysia that demonstrated how Malaysia had reached its conclusion about the fate of the jet.

In a further sign the search was bearing fruit, the U.S. Navy was flying in its high-tech black box detector to the area.

The so-called black boxes – the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – record what happens on board planes during flight. At crash sites, finding the black boxes soon is crucial because the locator beacons they carry fade out after 30 days.

Investigators believe someone on the flight may have shut off the plane’s communications systems. Partial military radar tracking showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.

That led them to focus on hijacking or sabotage, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.

Relatives of those on board received the news that the search for survivors was over in a Malaysia Airlines SMS message which said: “We have to assume beyond all reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and none of those on board survived.”

After the message was transmitted, there were hysterical scenes at the Beijing hotel where many of the relatives of those on board were staying.

A Reuters reporter on the scene saw at least four people being carried away on stretchers.

Cries of deep pain rang out as relatives burst forth, sobbing uncontrollably, while the news left others appearing disoriented, with one man lying on the floor holding his head.

One Chinese relative who spoke to AFP by phone said: “We know we have no hope left now.”

In the lobby of a hotel outside Kuala Lumpur where relatives, including many flown in from China by Malaysia Airlines, had gathered, an elderly woman sat down hard on the floor and wept.

“He died too young, I want my son back,” she cried out in Mandarin before security escorted her into an elevator.

Najib’s comments came as an Australian navy ship was close to finding possible debris from the jetliner after an increasing number of sightings of floating objects that were believed to be parts of the plane. The search site is about 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth, in icy sub-Arctic seas that are in one of the most remote parts of the world.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 25, 2014, on page 1.

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here