Malaysian prime minister: Missing plane plunged into ocean - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Malaysian prime minister: Missing plane plunged into Indian Ocean

Updated:
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -

New satellite information has provided compelling evidence that the missing Malaysian Airlines plane crashed into a remote section of the Indian Ocean over 1,500 miles from Perth, Australia. Searchers now have their first real evidence of a site where the plane went down and search ships are heading that way.

Flight 370 has been missing since March 8th, and on Monday, relatives received word telling them to assume that none of those on board have survived.

News that the plane went down in one of the most remote areas of the world was devastating to the families who have waited over two weeks for news about their loved ones.

"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 Najib Razak, Malaysian prime minister.

Flight 370 had been sending a ping to the Inmarasat satellite every hour since it went down. No location information was sent, but new calculations have now pinpointed the area. An Australian ship is closest, searching for parts of the plane.

"There are scientists and others that can take those bits of debris and backtrack them and hopefully they end up at the same spot and that's the 'X marks the spot' to begin the underwater search," said Dave Gallo, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

As the difficult search continues, the US Navy's pinger locator, TLP-25, was flown from New York to Perth to aid in finding the wreckage.

"It's a specialized piece of sonar equipment that is towed close to the ocean bottom that is tuned to listen to the pingers that are attached to the plane's black boxes. It only goes out about two miles, maybe three," said Capt. Van Gurley, Metron Scientific Solutions.

Naval experts say the plane's black box can ping for about 40 days maximum. But with wind and currents spreading wreckage hundreds of miles from the crash site, finding the plane itself will be a very difficult task.

Time is clearly running out, and investigators say finding the black box is crucial to solving the mystery of what happened to this flight.

A summary of the questions answered, and still pending, about the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's Monday announcement:

WHAT WE KNOW

THE PLANE CRASHED: Najib said satellite data showed the flight "ended in the southern Indian Ocean," confirming that the Boeing 777 that disappeared more than two weeks ago went down in a remote corner of the ocean, "far from any possible landing sites."

ITS LAST POSITION: A British company calculated satellite data obtained from the remote area of the ocean, using analysis never before used in an aviation investigation of this kind, and pinpointed the last spot the flight was seen in the air was in the middle of the ocean west of Perth, Australia.

NO SURVIVORS: Najib left little doubt that all 239 crew and passengers had perished in the crash; the father of an aviation engineer on the flight said, "we accept the news of the tragedy. It is fate."

QUESTIONS REMAIN

WHO AND HOW: Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possible explanation for what happened to the jet, but have said the evidence so far suggests it was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca, with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next. Authorities are considering the possibilities including terrorism, sabotage, catastrophic mechanical failure or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.

WHAT'S FLOATING IN THE OCEAN: The prime minister didn't address whether investigators had confirmed floating objects in the ocean and images captured by several countries' search parties, including that of France and China, were debris from the plane.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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