327 days after the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared mysteriously, the government has officially declared it to be an accident and says there were no survivors. There has been no trace whatsoever of the Beijing bound aircraft which had 239 people aboard when it suddenly disappeared, and the whereabouts of which are unknown even after massive international search in the southern Indian Ocean.
Declaring the flight as an accident will clear the way for compensation claims for affected families even as the officials said the search for wreckage will go on.
“After 327 days and based on all available data as well as circumstances … survivability in the defined area is highly unlikely. It is therefore with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that we officially declare Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident,” he said in a pre-recorded message broadcast on Malaysian television.
All 239 passengers and crew on board are presumed to have lost their lives, he said. The declaration will help facilitate financial claims by families, and Malaysia Airlines is ready to proceed with the compensation process, he added.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the announcement was agreed by the governments of Malaysia, China and Australia and was intended to “enable the families to move forward.”
“The announcement has no bearing on the search operations. The search for MH370 will continue,” he said.
Following this declaration by the Malaysian government, the foreign ministry in China has called for compensation for the kin of those affected.
“We call on the Malaysian side to honor the promise made when they declared the flight to have been lost and earnestly fulfill their compensation responsibilities,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
The majority of the passengers on MH370 were Chinese. The declaration of the disappearance of the plane should not be taken to mean that they have ruled out any foul play. It should only be seen as a legal move, meant to make things easier for the victims’ families.
However, some of the affected families have publicly voiced their unhappiness over the announcement because they fear the Malaysian authorities will now give up the search operations.
Till date, the Chinese, Malaysian and Australian governments have done everything they possibly could to scour the ocean over which the plane is believed to have gone missing. Four vessels equipped with specialized sonar technology are still scanning the area, even after 18,000 km sq of the sea up to depths of 6,000m has already been scoured comprehensively.