New analysis of satellite data confirms that Malaysian Airlines Flight 370’s last known position was southwest of Perth over a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, leading officials to conclude the went down in the water, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday evening.
In a statement to reporters at a hastily called briefing at 10 p.m. Kuala Lumpur time, Razak said “a type of analysis never before used” led Inmarsat and the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) to conclude the flight’s final track was south over open ocean, not north toward land.
Preliminary data analysis had narrowed down the flight path to one of the two tracks.
“Based on the new analysis, Inmarsat and AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean, west of Perth,” Razak confirmed.
The location is both “remote” and “far from any possible landing sites,” he added. “It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”
informed families of passengers and crew of the news shortly before the prime minister made his announcement.
“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” the airlines’ statement read. “The ongoing multinational search operation will continue, as we seek answers to the questions which remain. Alongside the search for MH370, there is an intensive investigation, which we hope will also provide answers.”
The news comes amid growing anticipation that reports of debris southwest of Perth will be linked to MH370’s disappearance. The multinational air fleet searching for MH370 for several days has sighted debris in two locations southwest of Australia, although it is still not known if they are related to the missing777.
AP-3 spotted two objects in the water in the search area about 2,500 km from the coast at about 2:45 p.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT), says the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. One is described as circular and gray or green colored, and the other rectangular and orange.
Australian naval vessel HMAS Success is moving toward the site of the suspected debris, and may reach it within the next few hours, or by morning AEDT time, officials say. Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has stressed that while these are new leads, there is still nothing conclusive. “They could be flotsam,” he says.
The Australian sighting came after a Chinese IL-76 aircraft involved in the search also reported seeing debris during a return leg to Perth. This was described as two large objects with many smaller white objects scattered nearby. However, a U.S. P-8 Poseidon aircraft sent to further investigate was unable to locate these objects. The site is in a different part of the search area than the objects later reported by the Australian aircraft.
Other aircraft have been dispatched to the area, although the last aircraft is due to depart the search area at about 11 p.m. AEDT.
Separately, Malaysian officials confirm that MH370 was carrying wooden pallets. An object believed to be a pallet has been previously seen in the search area.