Malaysian authorities running the investigation have told the families of those on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that the plane’s flight “ended in the southern Indian Ocean” and investigators assume no survivors. The news comes after a series of reports of debris spotted in a region about 1,500 miles from western Australia.
Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transportation minister, said at a press conference Monday that the relatives of those on board were notified via text message that the search for the plane had reached a pivotal point and authorities believed “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean.
The message added, “We have to assume beyond reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived. … We must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean,” according to ABC News.
The conclusion arises from the fact that the location “is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites.” The message was read out loud at Monday’s press conference, during which authorities also confirmed that none of the leads in the search were “definitive” but sufficient to conclude that the plane flew south and crashed in remote waters. According to CNN, Hishammuddin said that Australian authorities told the Malaysian government that items found on satellite could be retrieved from the ocean as early as Tuesday.
According to The Telegraph, the situation at Kuala Lumpur International Airport is chaotic as the families mourn their losses with “terrible screaming and wailing.” The relationship between relatives of the passengers and Malaysian authorities has been tense; some relatives accused the government of being secretive and disorganized and threatened to go on a hunger strike if new information did not surface soon.
The new conclusions at the press conference follow several days of new reports of debris spotted in an area that is about a three hour flight from Perth, Australia. Both Australian and Chinese officials said their satellites picked up images of debris in that location, including a wooden pallet, which the plane would have had on board.
Reportedly, investigators had begun to focus on pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah as the person who diverted the plane, though a motive for such a diversion remains unclear. As the plane’s direction was reprogrammed from inside the cockpit and required extensive knowledge of the workings of a Boeing 777, authorities suggested that the pilot was the person most likely to be able to divert the plane.