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Malaysian Officials Announce Missing Plane Flight 'Ended' in Indian Ocean

  • Ron Corben
  • VOA News

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced Monday evening that new satellite data has concluded missing Malaysian flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew went down in the Indian Ocean.

Razak did not say that wreckage has been found. He said that "never before used analysis" from British investigators formed the basis to conclude that the plane's last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia.

Razak said he informed relatives of passengers of plane's fate added that he's deeply sad. The announcement seems to indicate that the government is resigned that all aboard have perished.

Australian and Chinese search teams looking for signs of the missing jet in the southern Indian Ocean have reported sighting more debris that may be from the plane.

The latest leads come as the United States prepares to send specialized equipment to aid in the search for the aircraft’s “black box” flight recorder.

During a briefing in Kuala Lumpur, authorities say an Australian plane spotted two objects: one circular and gray and the other rectangular and orange - inside the targeted search area for the plane.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier described the sightings as "significant" in the search for the Malaysian flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew, bound for Beijing on March 8.

"There have been three significant developments - new satellite imagery, new Chinese satellite imagery, does seem to suggest at least one large object consistent with the object that earlier satellite imagery discovered which I told the Australian parliament about last week," Abbott said.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The search Monday extended to almost 70,000 square kilometers, although weather conditions were reported as poor. Australia's Maritime Safety Authority said 10 aircraft had been dispatched from Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, and the United States.

A Chinese icebreaker is reported to have changed course and heading to the area where the latest objects were seen.

Specialized locater en route

Also Monday, the U.S. Pacific Command said it is sending a specialized locator to assist in the recovery of the vital "black box" flight recorder in the hope a debris field is located.

The locator device is capable of receiving the black box transmitter signals to a depth of 6,100 meters.

Martin Tasker, technical director with the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, said it is a race against time to find the recorder because the box's locator batteries will fail after 30 days

Tasker said a recovery from such depths is similar to the problems posed by the loss in 2009 of an Air France airliner that crashed into the Atlantic.

“In the case of Air France 447 it took two years and they found it and of course the locator beacon had been dead for a long time," he said.

"So I can’t say how long it will take but they’ll put every effort in just like they did with the Air France event to try and locate, once they know or confirm the area where the aircraft possibly went down. They will then find a way to find the black boxes,” Tasker said.

Despite several sightings of possible debris from the plane, none of the reports have been confirmed as from the missing aircraft.

The initial search of the South China Sea over several days later shifted to the southern Indian Ocean as a possible location for the aircraft after reports the plane’s transponder “pings” had been sent over several hours after the last civilian radar sightings.

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