The data indicated that the jetliner flew “to a remote location, far from any possible landing sites,” Najib said.
“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.”
In China’s capital, family members had been called to a hotel near the airport to hear the announcement. Afterward, they filed out of a conference room in heart-wrenching grief.
Medical teams arrived with several stretchers and at least one elderly man was carried out of the conference room on one of them, his faced covered by a jacket. Minutes later a middle-aged woman was taken out on another, her face ashen and her eyes blank and expressionless.
Nan Jinyan, whose brother-in-law Yan Ling was aboard the flight, said she had been prepared for the worst but the announcement was still “a blow to us, and it is beyond description.”
In Kuala Lumpur, family members also broke down in sobs.
Selamat Omar, the father of a 29-year-old aviation engineer who was on the flight, said: “We accept the news of the tragedy. It is fate.”
In a statement to the families, Malaysia Airlines said: “We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain.”
The airline said it would transport families to the western Australian city of Perth if parts of the plane are found and brought to a military base there now being used by search planes. It said the “ongoing multinational search operation will continue as we seek answers to the questions which remain.”
The plane’s disappearance has baffled investigators, who have yet to rule out mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.