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MH370: Malaysia declares plane's disappearance an accident
January 29, 2015, 2:36 pm

The Malaysian government has officially declared the disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight MH370 an accident and has said that there were no survivors.

No trace of the Beijing-bound aircraft has been found since it disappeared on 8 March 2014. Officials said that the recovery operation is ongoing but that the 239 people onboard are now presumed dead.

The plane's whereabouts are still unknown despite a massive international search in the southern Indian Ocean. The declaration on Thursday should allow compensation payments to relatives of the victims.

Malaysian officials added that the recovery of the missing aircraft remained a priority and that they have pursued "every credible lead".

Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that it was "with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that we officially declare Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident.''

"All 239 of the passengers and crew onboard MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives," he said. He added that Malaysia, China and Australia have spared no expense in the hunt for the plane.

Four vessels are currently searching the sea floor with specialised sonar technology in a remote stretch of ocean where the plane is believed to have ended its flight.

'No evidence'

Based on analysis of satellite and aircraft performance data, MH370 is thought to be in seas far west of the Australian city of Perth. The vessels have so far searched an area of over 18,000 km sq (11,185 sq miles), according to officials.

The search area involved also has known depths of up to 6,000 m (19 685 ft).

Mr Azharuddin said that the progress of the safety investigation into the accident would be released soon, but that "at this juncture, there is no evidence to substantiate any speculations as to the cause of the accident".

The DCA said on Wednesday said that it planned to release an interim report on the investigation on 7 March, a day before the first anniversary of the disappearance.

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