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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed and there are no survivors: news families had always feared

By Alex Diaz

Relatives of flight MH370's passengers and crew have been told that the plane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, leaving no survivors.

The Malaysia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing with 239 people on board on March 8, sparking an international hunt.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak announced that data from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and British tracking firm Inmarsat had revealed that MH370's last position was in the ocean west of Perth, Australia.

Mr Razak left no hope for the possibility of survivors, stating that the plane had gone down in 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," he said.

Distraught family members who have lost loved ones were informed of the bad news ahead of Mr Razak's press conference in Kuala Lumpur. Some were furious after they were informed by text message.

Distressing images of relatives who have been staying at a hotel in Beijing during the search were broadcast across the world after they were informed.

"For them the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. I know this news must be harder still," Mr Razak said.

Some relatives were angry after reports suggested Inmarsat had worked out where the flight was likely to have crashed within a day, but rescuers took 10 days to act on the information.

The company later said it had established within four days that the plane had travelled along one of two vast arcs heading north across southern and central Asia or south across a vast expanse of ocean.

Chris McLauglin, a senior vice-president at Inmarsat, told Sky News: "What we did two weeks ago was say it could be north or it could be south, and what we've done is refined that with the signals we got from other aircraft.

"Previous aircraft provided a pattern, and that pattern to the south is virtually what we got in our suggested estimate."

The company said it was able to provide a location with a margin of error of about 100 miles but could not be more precise because the satellite which had been receiving MH370's pings was a 1990s model and not fitted with the GPS capability that would narrow the location to a handful of metres.

But the mystery of what happened to the plane and why remains unsolved.

Since it went missing, experts have speculated about various scenarios – from a terror attack or hijacking, to pilot error or mechanical problems.

There were new fears last night that the plane had been crashed into the Indian Ocean in an apparent suicide mission.

An official source told the Daily Telegraph that investigators believe "this has been a deliberate act by someone on board who had to have had the detailed knowledge to do what was done... Nothing is emerging that points to motive."

The source added that investigators had gone through the processes necessary to get the plane to where it ended up after eight hours.

"They point to it being flown in a rational way."

Several satellite images of potential debris in the area had been picked up ahead of the announcement, with French, Australian, American and Chinese authorities all capturing separate images.

Timeline of missing flight

March 8 - Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 takes off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am local time bound for Beijing carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew.

Someone, apparently the co-pilot, makes the final voice communication from the cockpit at 01.19am, saying "All right, good night" to air traffic controllers.

The plane is last seen on military radar at 02.14am heading west over the Strait of Malacca. Half an hour later the airline reveals to the public it has lost contact with the plane. The plane was due to land around 6.30am.

Officials reveal two passports used to board the flight were stolen, raising the first suspicions of terrorist involvement.

March 9 - Malaysia's air force chief says that military radar indicated the missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back.

March 10 - Vietnamese aircraft search for a plane door spotted in their waters but find nothing.

March 11 - The hunt is widened to cover a 115-nautical mile radius involving 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries.

The Malaysian military claims it has radar evidence showing that the missing plane changed course and made it to the Malacca Strait which is hundreds of miles away from the last location reported by civilian authorities. The aircraft was believed to be flying low.

The two male passengers travelling with stolen passports were Iranians who had bought tickets to Europe and were probably not terrorists, Malaysian police said.

March 12 - Satellite images on a Chinese government website shows suspected debris from the missing plane floating off the southern tip of Vietnam, China's Xinhua News Agency says.

The report includes co-ordinates of a location in the sea off the southern tip of Vietnam and east of Malaysia, near the plane's original flight path.

March 13 - Malaysian authorities expand their search for the missing jet into the Andaman Sea and beyond after acknowledging it could have flown for several more hours after its last contact with the ground.

Nothing was found when planes were sent to search an area off southern Vietnam identified by Chinese satellite images. The Chinese Embassy notifies the Malaysian government that the images were released by mistake and did not show any debris from the missing flight.

March 15 - Prime Minister Najib Razak's says the missing airliner was deliberately diverted and continued flying for more than six hours after losing contact with the ground. The plane could have gone as far north west as Kazakhstan or into the Indian Ocean's southern reaches.

Malaysian police have already said they are looking at the psychological state, family life and connections of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27. Both have been described as respectable, community-minded men.

March 16 - The search area now includes 11 countries the plane might have flown over. The number of countries involved in the operation had increased from 14 to 25.

Malaysian defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he had asked governments to hand over sensitive radar and satellite data to try to help get a better idea of the plane's final movements.

March 17 - Officials release a new timeline suggesting the final voice transmission from the cockpit of the missing Malaysian plane may have occurred before any of its communications systems were disabled.

Investigators have not ruled out hijacking, sabotage, or pilot suicide, and they are checking the backgrounds of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members, as well as the ground crew, to see if links to terrorists, personal problems or psychological issues could be factors.

March 18 - Ten days after a Malaysian jetliner disappeared, Thailand's military said it saw radar blips that might have been from the missing plane but did not report it "because we did not pay attention to it".

March 19 - Distressed relatives of the missing passengers threaten to go on hunger strike over the lack of information about the investigation.

March 20 - Two objects spotted in southern Indian Ocean, Australia sayswhich could be connected to the missing jet are detected in the southern India Ocean, the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said.

March 24 - Malaysian Prime Minister tells media the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean according to flight data.

Further reading

'Two more objects' found by Australian plane after Chinese sighting of possible debris in search area

Large object spotted in missing plane search

Poor conditions hamper search for debris of missing plane spotted floating in Indian Ocean

Two objects spotted in southern Indian Ocean, Australia says

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