The 17-day search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended on Monday when Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the jet crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. Airline officials said all 239 passengers onboard are presumed dead.
Groundbreaking satellite-data analysis by Inmarsat, a British satellite company, showed the plane went down in the ocean more than 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia, but questions about why it flew to such a remote part of the world still remain unanswered.
According to Razak, the aircraft’s last known position “is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites.”
The flight was headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared on March 8.
The airline broke the news to family members of passengers gathered at a hotel in Beijing, many of whom broke out in hysterics. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, at least two people were wheeled out on stretchers and taken to the hospital.
Many family members are angry about how the Malaysian government and the airline dealt with the tragedy. The airline sent a text messages to relatives saying, “We have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those onboard survived.” Two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese citizens.
The Chinese Family Committee released a statement saying, “From March 8 when they announced that MH370 lost contact to today, 18 days have passed during which the Malaysian government and military constantly tried to delay, deceive the passengers’ families and cheat the whole world.
“If the 154 [Chinese] passengers did lose their lives, Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government and military are the real executioners who killed them. We the families of those on board submit our strongest protest against them. We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and responsibility of all three,” the statement read.
Despite the new information, debris from the plane has yet to be found. Stormy weather, rough waters and the span of time that has passed since the plane’s disappearance all pose challenges to the search, and the weather halted searches on Monday.
According to the Australian Maritime Safety authority, teams were to resume the search on Wednesday if weather permitted.
A Malaysia Airlines official told the AP there are no plans to fly families to Perth until wreckage is found. Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the apparent crash, but haven’t ruled out mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or mental health issues related to the pilots or passengers.
On Monday, Australian and Chinese planes spotted floating objects via satellite, and ships rushed to the location, but it remains uncertain whether the objects were related to the plane.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakal said the investigation will take time and require patience.
“Such cases may take up to a year,” Khalid said, “so please don’t jump to conclusions that the police are slow.”
Editor’s Note: Information from CNN, The Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times was used in this report.