KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines yesterday told relatives of the 239 people on board a missing passenger jet that “we have to assume” the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean, but vowed the search for the jet would continue.
“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” the airline said in a statement to the families, citing new analysis of satellite data.
“On behalf of all of us at Malaysia Airlines and all Malaysians, our prayers go out to all the loved ones (of those on board) at this enormously painful time,” the statement continued. “We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain. We will continue to provide assistance and support to you.”
The airline vowed in its statement that the ongoing search for the plane and an intensive investigation into its fate “will continue, as we seek answers to the questions which remain”.
Hopes of a resolution to the mystery rose after a weekend in which an Australian aircraft spotted a wooden pallet, strapping and other debris, and French and Chinese satellite information indicated more floating objects.
An Australian-led multinational air and sea search has been scouring the vast ocean and there were two separate sightings on Wednesday of possible debris from the plane. Crew members of an Australian P-3 Orion plane reported seeing two objects, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament.
The Australian naval ship HMAS Success, equipped with a crane, was in the area, about 2,500km southwest of Perth, and will attempt to recover the objects.
The US Navy has added to the sense of an approaching denouement, ordering a specialised device sent to the region to help find the “black box” flight and cockpit voice data — crucial in determining what happened to the plane. The high-tech device can locate black boxes as deep as 20,000 feet, the US Seventh Fleet said. The 30-day signal from the black box is due to fail in less than two weeks.
As part of an investigation into the crash, Malaysia Airlines said that 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid was flying the Boeing 777 for the first time without a so-called “check co-pilot” looking over his shoulder. AFP