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Malaysian Prime Minister Announces Airliner Went Down


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Steve Inskeep. We have breaking news this morning on the status of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 307. Earlier this hour Malaysia's prime minister announced that the government there now believes the plane is lost.

PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK: It's therefore, with deep sadness and regret, that I must inform you that Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

INSKEEP: Ended up in the ocean, according to Prime Minister Najib Razak. Now this is a process of deduction, here. A satellite company, Inmarsat, did a type of analysis with the available data that had never been tried before, never been used in an investigation of this sort, in any case, and determined the flight path. There had been a mystery about whether this plane might have been able to reach land. They've now concluded the flight path ended over water - which as we've heard, the prime minister concludes, could only mean one thing. Now NPR's Anthony Kuhn is at a hotel in Beijing with family members of the missing passengers who've been given this news. And Anthony, what are you learning?

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Well Steve, I just witnessed a scene of great despair here. The press conference was very short. The prime minister did not take any questions or answers. Within a few minutes, people came streaming out of the doors of a room where they'd been summoned for an emergency meeting. People were wailing, and screaming, and yelling and cursing. It was just utter despair. I've seen quite a few stretchers going in there, not coming out with other people on them, but a lot of family members have come out shielding their relatives faces from the glares of the lights and the cameras. Some people had to be carried out. It was just a very disturbing scene that we just witnessed here. It's still going on, there's still people coming out of the hotel, Steve.

INSKEEP: Now I suppose we should observe, this does not even end the mystery or the questions for these families. They now have this conclusion that the plane went down in the Indian Ocean, that it appears that all lives were lost. But they still don't know how, they still don't know what happened, do they?

KUHN: That's correct. And, you know, planes are still searching, ships are still searching the waters of the southern Indian Ocean. There have been multiple sightings of objects of various sizes and colors there, but none of them has been conclusively linked to that flight. Also, investigations into possible motives have been ongoing. There's nothing but speculation on that. So it's not a complete closure by any means, and of course it must be very frustrating for relatives who've been told, essentially, that there doesn't look like there's much hope for the plane's passengers, but they just don't know why.

INSKEEP: Were there relatives who were hopeful as recently as a few hours ago, that their family members might still be alive somewhere in the world?

KUHN: Well, you know, Steve, it's been more than two weeks and as recently as a few days ago, you know, there was still speculation that the plane might have been hijacked, but the evidence continued to point toward the southern search corridor and not toward continental Asia, but toward very remote vast regions of ocean, hundreds of miles southwest of Australia where there's just no place for a place to land. But any hope that was held was completely shattered tonight and you could see it on the faces of the people here.

INSKEEP: Anthony, thanks very much.

KUHN: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Anthony Kuhn, reporting on this day, that Malaysia's prime minister says Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 ended up in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.