Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Declared "An Accident" & Search For Survivors Ends

Malaysia Airlines officially ended its search for MH370 survivors on Thursday, declaring the mysterious disappearance of the Boeing 777 last March "an accident." The plane was en route to Beijing when it vanished from radar while flying over the South China Sea shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, carrying 239 passengers and crew.

Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement on Thursday that while a search will continue for the missing jetliner, the cause of the crash will formally be labeled an accident:

Now that the search for survivors has ended, Malaysia Airlines can go about compensating the families of the victims, most of whom were from China. Azharuddin added in the statement that the airline was ready to proceed with the compensation process immediately — a task that would be "very difficult" for the relatives. "It is nonetheless important that families try to resume normal lives, or as normal a life as may be possible after this sudden loss," Azharuddin said.Chinese Premier Li Keqiang added to reporters on Thursday:

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Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, also urged Malaysia Airlines in a statement to quickly compensate the relatives of the victims:

The frustrating 10-month-long search for the Boeing 777, which disappeared on March 8, 2014, has so far turned up empty despite a large-scale operation with assistance from 25 countries. Azharuddin explained Thursday in a statement:

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Authorities believe the plane veered off-course and crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, more than 1,000 miles off the west coast of Australia. The reason for the crash still remains unknown, nor has any wreckage been found.

According to BBC News, four ships are currently using sonar equipment to search the seafloor of the suspected crash area. So far, an area of more than 11,000 square feet has been searched, without a trace of the Boeing 777.

Malaysia is greatly indebted to all the countries and individuals for all the assistance and support received," Azharuddin said Thursday. "We offer our heartfelt gratitude for the generosity of response in a dark hour in the history of the aviation industry."

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