DAY 18:[6:20pm]: Highlights from this evening’s press conference:
- Search operations in northern corridor and area near Indonesia called off. Current search area is 469,407 sq nautical miles from the initial 2.24 million sq nautical miles.
- MAS will take the lead in communicating with families.
-The aircraft wreckage, if found, may be brought to Australian soil for further investigation.
- Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said new analysis was convincing enough for the UK’s AAIB to brief PM Najib Razak that the plane’s last position was in the southern Indian ocean. The message was then conveyed to the families and announced to the public.
- IGP says investigation will continue on the four areas: sabotage, hijacking and psychological and personal problems.
- The US Navy’s Towed Pinger Locator - which can detect the aircraft’s black box - is en route to Perth.
- High level team from Malaysia will leave to Beijing today. Lack of details yesterday caused speculations that Malaysia was not revealing information. Team to address all questions from family members.
- Malaysian air force is conducting its own inquiry into the incident and Transport Ministry is looking at members to form its own inquiry board.
[4pm]: Angry relatives of Chinese passengers scuffled with security personnel outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, demanding answers.
[1.15pm]: Highlights from the press conference by Malaysia Airlines:
- Motivation last night was to deliver the ‘tragic news’ to the families before the world heard it. Message was conveyed to the families ‘wherever humanly possible’ and SMS was used as a last resort. Airline wanted to make sure the news came from them and not the media.
- MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya says Australian authorities would give visas to families who wish to go to Australia only when ‘evidence has been established’. MAS will then make arrangements to fly them to the site.
- MAS will continue to support nearly 1000 family members and have trained an additional 40 caregivers to attend to their needs.
- Additional payment will be made to families on top of the US$5,000 that was given in initial financial assistance.
- MAS chairman Md Nor Yusof denied claims that it had ‘isolated’ family members, saying they were given places that would allow them comfort, privacy and access to caregivers. “We do not know why, we do not know how this terrible tragedy happened but as the MAS family, we are all praying for the passengers and crew of MH370.”
- On whether MAS had sent high ranking representatives to meet with families, Md Nor said: “That has been done all the time. We just do not display our names when we go”.
- To a question on whether MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya would resign, he replied: "It is a personal decision."
[12pm]: Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed the Parliament called on members of the government and the Opposition not to politicise the issue of the missing plane.
" This is the time to show our solidarity with the families of those onboard. I plead to the government and the Opposition that in a crisis like this we have to show our sympathy to all parties involved. We have to show our maturity, love for the country and sensitivity to the families who are going through a difficult time. The government will do everything that we have to do with a full sense of duty."
- The announcement was made last night to dispel the perception that Malaysia was withholding information.
- Suggestions to mourn the loss of the crew and passengers include flying the national flag at half-mast, but Najib said it should be done only after wreckage is found.
- Australian PM Tony Abbot informed Najib this morning that cooperation from Australia will continue until traces of the aircraft is found. Although the conditions in the southern Indian ocean are challenging, Malaysia will continue search operations as a commitment to the families of all those onboard MH370.
[10.45am]: Bad weather and rough seas forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage of a missing Malaysian jetliner.
[8.29am]: The United States is sending an undersea Navy drone capable of exploring waters nearly 15,000 feet deep to potentially help search for any sunken wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the Pentagon said.
Strong gale force winds of up to 80 kilometres per hour halts air and sea search for MH370, Australia Maritime Safety Authority said. Search operations will resume tomorrow.
The why and how about MH370 ended up in the remote rough seas will only be known once investigators get to 'fish' the black box of the Malaysian jet that is registered as 9M-MRO.
French investigators today said it was too soon to consider launching undersea searches for the remains of MH370.
Malaysia Airlines vowed 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".
"God loves you more daddy....God loves them more."The daughter of MH370 Chief Steward Andrew Nari tweeted the above, as the Prime Minister announced the sad news minutes ago.
Relatives of the passengers on MH370 have been called to an emergency meeting with the company and charter flights are being arranged for Australia, Sky News reported.
The Prime Minister, Najib Razak has confirmed that MAS flight MH370 ended in the Southern Indian Ocean, according to new data from INMARSAT and AAIB.
- Based on new analysis, INMARSAT and AAIB also concluded that MH370 flew along the Southern Corridor. The last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
- No further details were furnished during the press conference, and another press conference will be called tomorrow with further details.
Malaysia Airlines has also released a statement:
On behalf of all of us at Malaysia Airlines and all Malaysians, our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time.
This is the text alert Malaysia Airlines sent to the families of the MH370 passengers before PM Najib's official announcement today:
What we know as of Day 17, Monday, 24 March 2014:
1. PM Najib Razak announced that INMARSAT and AAIB confirms that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.
Two objects - one circular and another rectangular - were seen by Australian counterparts.
Chinese aircrew have spotted " suspicious objects" in the southern Indian Ocean.
The US Navy is sending a black box locator to the search area in the southern Indian Ocean.
2. Pallet and belts were spotted in the Indian Ocean.
3. Chinese satellites have spotted objects floating in the southern search area.
4. Two objects possibly related to MH370 have been spotted on Australian satellite imagery. Largest object sighted is 24 metres.
1. Transcripts of the communication between MH370 and air control is “not accurate”.
2. Communications satellites picked up faint electronic pulses ("pings") from MH370 for hours after it went missing.
3. Police are investigating the matter from four angles: hijacking, sabotage, psychological problems, and personal problems among passengers and crew.
4. The PM said that the plane movement was consistent with "deliberate action" by someone on the plane.
5. Flight simulator:
- Data log was deleted from the pilot’s flight simulator on Feb 3, forensic work is being done to retrieve data.
- A flight simulator was taken from the home of MH370's pilot and is being examined by the police.
Police have questioned more than 100 people including families of both pilot and co-pilot.
- No red flags in pilot and co-pilot backgrounds
- Last words from cockpit - ‘Alright, good night’ believed to be said by the co-pilot at 1.19am.
- MAS: The pilot and co-pilot did not ask to fly together, ands flew as assigned by the roster.
- The flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, with total flying hours of 18,365 hours.
- First officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, 27, has a total flying hours of 2,763 hours.
- No additional waypoint on MH370’s flight plan. Normal route to Beijing.
- Plane was carrying three to four tonnes of mangosteen and 200kg of Li-Ion batteries, packaged according to guidelines.
- The B777-200 aircraft that operated MH207 had undergone maintenance 12 days before the flight. There were no issues.
- The aircraft was carrying 7.5 hours of fuel at the time of its disappearance (2.40am, March 8).
About the passengers:
1. Malaysia Airlines has retired the missing jetliner's flight code as a sign of respect to the 239 passengers and crew.
Editors's note: The public may contact +603 7884 1234. Next-of-kin may head to the Support Facility Building at KLIA's South Support Zone. For directions, call 03 8787 1269.