Families informed of missing jet's fate via text message
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, March 24, 2014 11:06AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 24, 2014 12:29PM EDT
The families of the passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight received notification via text message that the plane is considered lost and all on board presumed dead, reports say.
The airline sent an SMS message to families, in English, before authorities confirmed the news to the media Monday morning, reported CTV’s Asia Bureau Chief Janis Mackey Frayer.
“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived,” the text message reads.
“As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters that satellite images show the plane’s last position to be far from suitable landing sites.
Media reports said the airline later clarified that the message was not just sent via text, but conveyed by airline officials to family members who had gathered at hotels to await news.
The airline did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 went missing on March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur with 239 passengers and crew on board. The flight was headed for Beijing.
An international search effort has led only to false sightings of debris and numerous theories of what happened to the plane. Family members, Chinese authorities and aviation experts have criticized Malaysian officials for their slow release of information about the missing flight.
Howls of grief
Family members who have been holed up in a Beijing airport hotel since the flight went missing lashed out angrily after hearing of the flight’s fate, CTV’s Asia Bureau Chief Janis Mackey Frayer reported from Beijing.
“Many of the relatives are extremely angry, they’re bursting out of the doors, they’re seeing hundreds of media crowded outside in the hallways, they’re taking swings, they’re throwing water, they’re kicking, and (it’s) understandable given the news that they’ve just received,” she said.
Ambulances were lined up outside the Lido hotel, according to Mackey Frayer, while police patrolled the halls. Some relatives have been taken out of the hotel to receive medical attention, she said.
“To have the final confirmation after two-plus weeks of waiting, of holding vigils, of believing that there was a shred of hope that there were going to be survivors found, to get the news by text message perhaps underscored and punctuated the blow,” Mackey Frayer reported from the hotel.
“Howls of grief” could be heard from the room where family members had congregated, she tweeted.
One woman emerged from the room yelling, “my son, my son!” the Associated Press reported.
Nan Jinyan, whose brother-in-law Yan Ling was on the flight, said the news “is a blow to us, and it is beyond description.”
A father of another one of the passengers told AP that several family members broke down when they heard the news.
“We accept the news of the tragedy,” said Selamat Omar. “It’s is fate.”
Family members may be flown to a suitable location to mark the flight’s end point, Mackey Frayer reported. They may also be taken to Australia, which is leading the search effort.
Razak said more details would be released at a news conference on Tuesday.