Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced today (March 24) that up-to-date satellite information indicates the Malaysian Airlines jetliner that disappeared earlier this month crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Razak held a press conference today, at the end of the fifth day of an international search operation concentrated on a swath of the southern Indian Ocean. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is investigating possible debris from the missing airplane that was spotted earlier today. The two objects were detected in the water, roughly 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) southwest of the Australian city of Perth.
Yet, despite ongoing search efforts, the Malaysian Prime Minister said further analysis conducted by the U.K. Accidents Investigation Branch, based on data from the British Inmarsat satellite company, concluded that Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 flew along the southern corridor, with its last known position in the middle of the Indian Ocean, off the west coast of Perth. [Facts about Malaysia Flight 370]
"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites," Razak said in his address. "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."
Razak said the families of the 239 passengers onboard have been notified.
"We will be holding a press conference tomorrow with further details," Razak added. "In the meantime, we wanted to inform you of this new development at the earliest opportunity. We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families, two principles which have guided this investigation."
Earlier today, Malaysian Airlines also said it assumes "beyond any reasonable doubt" that the missing jetliner is lost, reported BBC News.
The airline sent the grim announcement to the family members in a text message, according to the BBC, which 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... we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."
The Malaysian Airlines jetliner has been missing since March 8, when it mysteriously disappeared during a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The exact whereabouts of the plane, and the 239 passengers onboard, are still unknown.
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Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for Space.com, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.