Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) — Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday, citing a new analysis of satellite data by a British satellite company and accident investigators.
A relative of a missing passenger briefed by the airline in Beijing said, “They have told us all lives are lost.”
While the announcement appeared to end hopes of finding survivors more than two weeks after the flight vanished, it left many key questions unanswered, including what went wrong aboard the Beijing-bound airliner and the location of its wreckage in the deep, wild waters of the Indian Ocean.
For families, some of whom had held out hope their relatives somehow were still alive, the news appeared to be devastating. At a briefing for relatives in Beijing, some were overcome and had to be taken from a hotel on stretchers. In Kuala Lumpur, a woman walked out of a briefing for families in tears.
“My son, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter were all on board. All three family members are gone. I am desperate!” a woman said outside the Beijing briefing.
Another woman came out of the briefing room screaming, expressing doubts about the Malaysian conclusion.
“Where is the proof?” she said. “You haven’t confirmed the suspected objects to tell us no one survived.”
Sarah Bajc, the partner of the only American aboard the flight, Philip Wood, canceled all media interviews after the announcement.
“I need closure to be certain, but cannot keep on with public efforts against all odds,” she wrote. “I still feel his presence, so perhaps it was his soul all along.”
While investigators have yet to find even a piece of the plane, the Prime Minister based his announcement on what he described as unprecedented analysis of satellite data by British satellite provider Inmarsat and the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch. He didn’t describe the nature of the analysis.
But he said the data — drawn from satellite pings the ill-fated airliner continued to send throughout its final flight — made it clear that the plane’s last position was in the middle of the remote southern Indian Ocean, “far from any possible landing sites.”
He begged reporters to respect the privacy of relatives.
“For them, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking,” he said. “I know this news must be harder still.”
The Prime Minister’s statement came after the airline sent a text message to relatives saying it “deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those onboard survived.”
The airline said it was making plans to fly families to Australia once wreckage is found.
Among the passengers and crew was a Jewish man, Nikolai Brodski, a member of the Jewish community in Irkutsk, Siberia.
He was 43 years old and a father of two children.
The rabbi of the city and county, Shliach Rabbi Aharon Wagner, has been in constant contact with his family members to encourage them and support them at this difficult time.
Rabbi Wagner, who knew Mr. Brodski personally, said that the entire local community is devastated since hearing of the tragedy.