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:

It is therefore, with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that, on behalf of the government of Malaysia, we officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident ... and that all 239 of the passengers and crew onboard MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives.

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:

We hope the Malaysian side honours its promises and fully investigates the incident, settling claims and making peace with the families, especially continuing to make all efforts to find the missing plane and its passengers.
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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:

We call on the Malaysian side to honour the promise made when they declared the flight to have been lost and earnestly fulfill their compensation responsibilities.

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:

The Governments of Malaysia, China and Australia have spared no expense and resources in the search for MH370. This has been done with the paramount aim to find the aircraft and to seek answers. It has been done in hope of bringing some solace to the families of the passengers and crew on board MH370 ... We have endeavored and pursued every credible lead and reviewed all available data. Despite all these efforts over the last 327 days (as of 28 Jan 15), the search unfortunately has yet to yield the location of the missing aircraft.
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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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