KUALA LUMPUR, January 29, 2015 (TSR) – The missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been officially declared an “accident” and the search for survivors has been called off, authorities said Thursday.

A statement released by Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation said that all 239 people aboard the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8, 2014, were now presumed dead. “It is therefore, with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that, on behalf of the government of Malaysia, we officially declare Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident,” said Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation.

“All 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives.”

The underwater search for wreckage in the Southern Indian Ocean will continue. Rahman acknowledged that the announcement would “be very difficult for the families and loved ones,” but said it would enable the families to begin the process of claiming compensation.

Most of the passengers aboard the flight were Chinese and Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called on Malaysian officials to “earnestly fulfil their compensation responsibilities.” Malaysia’s announcement comes more than 10 months after MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The U.S. has been among 13 countries to send aircraft and ships to attempt to recover the jet, which investigators believe crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Rahman described what he said was “a frustrating time for all who have tried their best in the search for MH370.” He said the authorities have “never wavered in our commitment to continue our efforts to find” the airliner.

“Its passengers and its crew will always be remembered and honored,” he said. “The governments of Malaysia, China and Australia have spared no expense and resources in the search for MH370,” Rahman said. “This has been done with the paramount aim to find the aircraft and to seek answers.

It has been done in hope of bringing some solace to the families of the passengers and crew on board MH370.”


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