KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane, missing for 18 days, has gone down in the southern Indian Ocean at a remote location west of Perth.
Making the sombre announcement here last night, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this conclusion was based on new analysis by satellite company Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) on the satellite data provided.
"Using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort, they have been able to shed more light on MH370's flight path.
"Based on their new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth.
"This is a remote location far from any possible landing sites," said an ashen-faced Najib to a room packed full of reporters at the Putra World Trade Centre.
Inmarsat had provided the satellite data which earlier indicated the northern and southern corridors as possible flight paths of MH370.
Flanked by Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman and Civil Aviation Department director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Najib told the stunned reporters:
"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."
Najib said he had been briefed on the conclusion by AAIB earlier in the day.
Malaysia Airlines, said the Prime Minister, had already spoken to the families of the 239 passengers and crew members to inform them of the new development.
"For them, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. I know this news must be harder still," he said, urging the media to respect the families' privacy and allow them the space they needed at "this difficult time".
A press conference will be held today to provide further details.
Najib said the Malaysian Government wanted to inform the media about the new development at the earliest opportunity.
"We share this information out of a commitment to openness and respect for the families - two principles which have guided this investigation," he added.
Najib, who read out a prepared statement, did not take questions. MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya was seen crying as the announcement was made.
As soon as Najib left the auditorium, a Shanghai Radio reporter broke down sobbing as he relayed the news by telephone to his colleagues.
The reporter fell to his knees and continued crying as others crowded around him.
"I'm sorry. This is just so sad," he said, apologising.