The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said on October 3: “It is almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era with 10 million passengers boarding commercial aircraft every day, for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board.
“Despite the extraordinary efforts of hundreds of people involved in the search from around the world, the aircraft has not been located.”
Their report reiterated estimates from December and April that the Boeing 777 was most likely located 25,000 sq km (9,700 sq miles) to the north of the earlier search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.
The search for the Malaysian flight MH379 that vanished in March 2014 has been suspended after three years.
The families of the victims say the decision is “irresponsible”.
Family support group Voice370 said the search ought to be expanded – it was “an inescapable duty owed to the flying public”.
The plane vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 on board.
More than 46,300 sq miles of the Indian Ocean has been searched with no results. Pieces of debris have been found as far away as Madagascar.
Only seven have been identified as definitely or highly likely to be from the Boeing 777.
There were 14 nationalities among the 227 passengers and 12 crew on board the plane. The majority – 153 people – were Chinese.
Announcing the suspension, Australia, Malaysia and China said “no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft” despite numerous studies.
They remained hopeful this would happen in the future.
However, Voice370 said the search must continue and be extended to include an area of some 25,000 sq km north of the current one, recommended by a report released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in December 2016.
“Stopping at this stage is nothing short of irresponsible, and betrays a shocking lack of faith in the data, tools and recommendations of an array of official experts assembled by the authorities themselves.”
A report in November 2016 said theM370 flight probably made a “high and increasing rate of descent” into the Indian Ocean.
Relatives of victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are suing Russia and its President Vladimir Putin in the European Court of Human Rights.
Flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made missile over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 on board.
The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels were responsible while Russia accuses Ukrainian forces.
The claim is based on the violation of a passenger’s right to life, News.com.au reported.
It is for 10 million Australian dollars ($7.2 million) for each victim, and the lawsuit names both the Russian state and Vladimir Putin as respondents.
Jerry Skinner, a US-based aviation lawyer leading the case, told News.com.au it was difficult for the families to live with, knowing it was “a crime”.
He said: “The Russians don’t have any facts for blaming Ukraine, We have facts, photographs, memorandums, tons of stuff.”
They were waiting to hear from the ECHR whether the case had been accepted, Jerry Skinner said.
The Kremlin said it was unaware of the claim, the Interfax news agency reported, but a senator with Vladimir Putin’s party is quoted in state media as saying it was “legally nonsensical and has no chance”.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there are 33 next-of-kin named in the application – eight from Australia, one from New Zealand with the rest from Malaysia.
Sydney-based law firm LHD Lawyers is filing the case on behalf of the victims’ families.
Flight MH17 crashed at the height of the conflict between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian separatists.
According to a Dutch report released in 2015, the plane was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile, but did not say who fired it.
Most of the victims were Dutch and a separate criminal investigation is still under way.
A piece of debris found on a Mauritian island will be examined to see if it is part of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Australian authorities say.
A hotel owner on the island who saw the debris said it bore a design and looked like it was from the inside of a plane.
If confirmed, it would be the first piece of interior debris from the plane yet to be found.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 passengers.
Despite an extensive deep water search, led by Australia, the plane and all its passengers remain missing.
Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said the debris, found last week, was an “item of interest”.
The debris was discovered by hotel guests on Rodrigues Island, about 350 miles east of the main island of Mauritius.
Last month Australia said debris found in Mozambique was “almost certainly from MH370” and in 2015 French authorities said a wing part found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion was part of the plane.
The search has focused on the southern Indian Ocean.
More than 95,000 sq km of a 120,000 sq km area has now been examined, with the remainder set to be covered by June, when the search is scheduled to end.
Two plane parts found in Mozambique almost certainly came from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, the transport ministers of Australia and Malaysia say.
The two parts were found separately by members of the public and were flown to Australia for analysis.
Australia’s Darren Chester said the finds were “consistent with drift modeling” of ocean currents.
MH370 vanished in March 2014 with 239 people on board.
The plane went out of contact while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Satellite data suggests it likely went down in the southern Indian Ocean after veering off course for unknown reasons.
The fate of the plane, its passengers and crew remains one of aviation’s biggest unsolved mysteries.
One of the parts retrieved in Mozambique was found on a sandbank by an amateur US investigator in late February. That find prompted a South African tourist to come forward with a piece he found in Mozambique in December.
Darren Chester said the investigation team had finished examining the debris and found both were “consistent with panels from a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft”, the same make as the missing plane.
“The analysis has concluded the debris is almost certainly from MH370,” he said in a statement, adding that it showed that the vast deep-sea search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean, being led by Australia, was focusing on the right place.
Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai later told a news conference that paint samples from the debris indicated they were parts of the missing plane.
“First, the two pieces of debris belong to Boeing 777 parts. Secondly, from the paint and the stencils of these two pieces, it is similar to MAS [Malaysian Airlines] airlines paint. We conclude it is most certain [it] belongs to MH370,” he said.
The Australia-led search is scanning the sea floor, much of it previously unmapped, in the hope of locating the wreckage.
Darren Chester said that would continue for now, with 10,000 sq miles of ocean still be to covered.
However, the three countries have said that barring significant new evidence, they will end the operation once the area has been fully searched.
The MH370 search is expected to be completed in the coming months.
Meanwhile, officials are arranging to collect and examine a fourth piece of debris, found at Mossel Bay in South Africa’s southern coast on March 21 by a local archaeologist.
The piece apparently bears a part of the logo of Rolls Royce, the British company which manufactures engines for aircraft including the Boeing 777.
Malaysia says it is awaiting permission from South Africa to conduct a search of its coast for more debris.
According to the Dutch Safety Board report, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine as a result of a Russian-made Buk missile.
MH17 flight crashed in Ukraine in July 2014 killing 298 people.
The missile hit the front left of the plane causing other parts break off..
The West and Ukraine say Russian-backed rebels brought down the Boeing 777, but Russia blames Ukrainian forces.
The report does not say who fired the missile, but says airspace over eastern Ukraine should have been closed.
The plane – flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – crashed at the height of the conflict between government troops and the pro-Russian separatists.
Among the victims were 196 Dutch nationals.
The report says the three crew members in the cockpit were killed by the missile explosion instantly.
However, the report adds, it was unclear at which point the other occupants died, and the possibility of some remaining conscious for some time during the one-and-a-half minutes it took for the plane to go down could not be ruled out.
The Dutch Safety Board presented its findings first to the victims’ relatives before briefing reporters at the Gilze-Rijen military base in the Netherlands.
The board showed parts of the aircraft that had been brought back from the rebel-held Donetsk region and reconstructed.
Dutch Safety Board President Djibbe Joustra said the impact pattern on the plane showed a missile was responsible – not a meteor, air-to-air missile or internal explosion.
Djibbe Joustra said paint had been found on metal fragments within the plane that matched with missile fragments on the ground.
The evidence pointed to a 9N314M warhead, which can be fitted to a 9M38M1 missile launched by the Buk surface-to-air missile system, the report found.
Djibbe Joustra said there was sufficient reason to have closed off Ukrainian airspace to commercial traffic but Ukraine did not do that – and on the day of the crash, 160 flights flew over the area in question.
The board does not have the authority to apportion blame, under the rules governing international crash investigations.
Djibbe Joustra suggested that the aircraft is most likely to have been brought down by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile – which experts say both Russian and Ukrainian armies possess.
The government in Ukraine and several Western officials have said the missile was brought from Russia and launched from the rebel-held part of Ukraine.
A separate Dutch-led criminal investigation is under way. Dutch Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke on Tuesday said a number of “persons of interest” had been identified, but there was still much to be done and the inquiry would not be finished this year.
Russian officials from Almaz-Antey – the state company which manufactures Buk missiles – once again rejected those accusations.
During a presentation timed to pre-empt the Dutch report, officials said the evidence suggested the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air Buk missile fired by Ukrainian forces.
Using video footage of their own mock-up of shrapnel hitting the fuselage of an aircraft, the officials said trajectory evidence showed the missile had been fired from Ukrainian-controlled territory. They argued the missile used was a decades-old model no longer in use in the Russian arsenal.
Russia says Dutch investigators have not taken account of its findings.
In July, Russia vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council to set up an international tribunal into the MH17 air disaster.
President Vladimir Putin said at the time the establishment of such a tribunal would be “premature” and “counterproductive”.
Parts of a suspected Russian missile system have been found at Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine, international investigators say.
Investigators in the Netherlands say the fragments, possibly from a Buk surface-to-air system, are “of particular interest” and could help show who was behind the crash.
However, they say they have not proved their “causal connection” with the crash.
MH17 crashed on land held by Russian-backed rebels in July 2014, killing all 298 on board.
It had 283 passengers on board, including 80 children, and 15 crew members.
About two-thirds of those who died were Dutch nationals, with dozens of Malaysians and Australians among the rest.
Ukraine and many Western countries have accused pro-Russian rebels of shooting down the plane, saying they could have used a Buk missile system supplied by Russia.
Russia and the rebels deny any responsibility and say the Ukrainian military was to blame.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said in a joint statement with the Dutch Safety Board that the parts had been “secured during a previous recovery mission in eastern Ukraine”.
“The parts are of particular interest to the criminal investigation as they can possibly provide more information about who was involved in the crash of MH17. For that reason the JIT further investigates the origin of these parts,” the statement said.
“At present the conclusion cannot be drawn that there is a causal connection between the discovered parts and the crash of flight MH17.”
The investigators would now enlist the help of weapons experts and forensic specialists to examine the parts, the statement added.
The JIT comprises representatives of the Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, Malaysia and Australia.
They are meeting in The Hague to discuss a draft report on the causes of the crash, the final version of which is expected to be published by the Dutch Safety Board in October.
The statement comes two weeks after Russia vetoed a draft resolution to set up an international tribunal into the disaster, triggering widespread outrage.
Moscow described the Malaysian initiative as “premature” and “counterproductive”.
Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was brought down on July 17, 2014, in Donetsk region.
Malaysia PM Najib Razak has announced that debris found on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion is to be transported to France to find out whether it is from the missing airliner MH370.
Initial reports suggest the 2-meter long wreckage is very likely to be from a Boeing 777, the prime minister said.
Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH370 is the only Boeing 777 to have disappeared over an ocean.
There were 239 people on board when the plane went missing in March 2014.
Razak Najib said French authorities were taking the debris to the southern French city of Toulouse – the site of the nearest office of the French body responsible for air accident investigations (the BEA) – to verify it as quickly as possible.
A Malaysian team of investigators and representatives from the government and the airline was travelling to Toulouse, and a second team to the site of the find on Reunion, the prime minister said.
Najib Razak said the location was “consistent with the drift analysis provided to the Malaysian investigation team”.
“As soon as we have more information or any verification we will make it public…
“I promise the families of those lost that whatever happens, we will not give up.”
Aviation experts who have studied photos of the debris found on Reunion on July 29 say it does resemble a flaperon – a moving part of the wing surface – from a Boeing 777.
On July 30, a municipal employee found what appeared to be a very badly damaged suitcase on the Reunion coast, according to local media.
The item was found at Saint-Andre, the same location as the earlier debris.
Reunion, a French overseas department, is about 370 miles east of Madagascar.
The search efforts for MH370, led by Australia, are focused on a broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean – around 2,500 miles to the east of Reunion.
After MH370 disappeared from radar screens, experts analyzed data from faint “pings” the aircraft sent to satellites to narrow down its last known location.
It was this information that identified the search area in the southern Indian Ocean, west of Perth.
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said: “We have noticed the reports and are wasting no time in obtaining and checking the information.”
More than half of those on board the missing plane were Chinese citizens.
A group of relatives of many of the Chinese passengers said in a statement that they wanted “100%” certainty about where the part is from, and that the search for the airliner should continue.
Germany was told of the risk of flying over eastern Ukraine shortly before Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down last July, but failed to pass on the alert, reports say.
According to diplomatic cables sent two days before the crash, the situation had become “very alarming”, German media say.
The cables cited the downing on July 14 of a Ukrainian air force plane at a height of about 20,000ft.
Flight MH17 was brought down three days later, with the loss of 298 lives.
The Malaysia Airlines plane had been flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and 196 of those on board were Dutch.
A Dutch-led international inquiry says one of the main scenarios for the disaster was that the plane was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile launcher.
Investigators have appealed for witnesses to the launcher’s arrival in a rebel-controlled area shortly before the crash. Their final report is due to be published in October.
According to German public TV channels NDR and WDR and Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the foreign ministry cables had assessed the downing of the Antonov military plane on 14 July 2014 as a significant development because of its altitude at the time.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 had been flying at 33,000 ft when it was hit.
German intelligence had repeatedly warned of the risk to aviation security, the report adds.
A Lufthansa source tells German media that no communiqué was given to the airline of a change in the situation.
Three Lufthansa planes flew over the area on the day of the disaster – including one 20 minutes beforehand – and it was pure chance that none was hit, the report says. Other German airlines had been avoiding the region for some time.
According to the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese officials, the search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will be doubled if nothing is found in the current search zone, officials say.
The Australian, Malaysian and Chinese ministers have met to discuss progress.
Malaysia Airlines plane, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.
It is believed to have crashed off Western Australia, but so far no trace has been found.
At the moment teams using sophisticated sonar equipment are scouring a 23,000 sq mile area of seabed far west of the Australian city of Perth. About 40% of this remains to be searched.
If nothing is found, the search will be extended by another 23,000 sq mile to “cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis”, a joint statement from the ministers said.
The additional search area could take up to a year to complete given adverse weather conditions in the upcoming winter months, the statement said.
Investigators still do not know what happened to the plane.
The search zone has been defined based on analysis of hourly “handshakes” between the plane and a communications satellite.
There is still no explanation as to why it flew so far off course – making finding the plane and its “black box” voice recorders key to understanding its fate.
Malaysia has unveiled plans for a new airline, called flymojo, after signing a $1.5 billion deal with Bombardier for 20 new aircraft.
The new carrier would be based out of Johor Bahru in the south and Kota Kinabalu in East Malaysia.
The deal with Bombardier includes the option to buy 20 more planes, taking its value up to $2.9 billion.
Malaysia has been coping with three aviation disasters in recent months.
In the latest incident, a Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia plane crashed into the Java Sea while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore in December, killing all 162 people on board.
In July, a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over pro-Russian rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people.
That followed another plane that vanished shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014. No trace of the plane has been found.
The launch of the new airline was announced at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition on March 17, with PM Najib Razak in attendance.
Aziz Kaprawi, deputy minister of transport, said the new airline would play a key role in improving air travel between the Malaysian Peninsula and other parts of the region.
“As the only airline utilizing the southern corridor as its headquarters, flymojo will transform Senai [Johor Bahru’s airport] into a key regional aviation and logistics hub – augmenting the government’s initiatives in developing Iskandar Malaysia and the southern corridor,” he said in a statement by Bombardier.
The planes ordered from Bombardier are CS100 aircraft, which seat up to 125 people and would make flymojo the first airline in the region to operate the aircraft.
Local reports said flymojo was scheduled to start operating from October this year.
Malaysia remains committed to finding flight MH370, said PM Najib Razak on the first anniversary of its disappearance.
Relatives of the 239 missing passengers and crew are holding a series of remembrance ceremonies.
The Malaysian airliner was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished on March 8, 2014. No trace has ever been found.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian government has released its official report into the disappearance of flight MH370.
The report contains masses of technical information about the missing aircraft, its maintenance record, the background of the crew, and the various air traffic control and military radar tracking records of the plane.
It appears to offer no significant new information which might explain where the plane went, or what happened to it.
“No words can describe the pain the families of those on board are going through. The lack of answers and definitive proof – such as aircraft wreckage – has made this more difficult to bear,” said Najib Razak in a statement.
He added that the search team had followed the “little evidence that exists” but remained “hopeful” that the plane would be found.
The international search team is focusing on an area of the southern Indian Ocean, approximately 1,000 miles off the coast of western Australia.
Earlier on Sunday, the families of MH370 crew members held a remembrance ceremony at the house of missing in-flight supervisor Patrick Gomez.
“We’re always thinking exactly what happened on that day itself, you know the conversations that we were having, the tears, the hugs that we were giving each other,” said his wife, Jacquita Gonzales.
The event has not been billed as a commemoration ceremony because many family members still believe that their loved ones are alive.
The search team is due to release an interim report about MH370 later today.
Earlier, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that he was confident that the plane would be found in the southern Indian Ocean.
Liow Tiong Lai promised his government would continue to back the search and said he was confident they could complete the search operation “hopefully by May this year”.
He told AFP that investigators would go “back to the drawing board” if the search failed to yield results by May.
Some families of those on board the plane have accused the Malaysian authorities of hiding some information, but the transport minister urged them not to believe the conspiracy theories.
Earlier this year, the Malaysian government declared flight MH370 to have been lost with all on board, in a move it said was necessary to start processing compensation claims for the families.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been officially declared an accident with no survivors.
No trace of the Beijing-bound aircraft has been found since it disappeared on March 8, 2014.
Malaysian government officials say 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 January 29 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 had 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.
Following today’s announcement, China’s foreign ministry called for compensation for the victims’ families.
“We call on the Malaysian side to honor the promise made when they declared the flight to have been lost and earnestly fulfill their compensation responsibilities,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
The majority of the passengers on MH370 were Chinese.
Four vessels are currently searching the seafloor with specialized sonar technology in a remote stretch of ocean where the plane is believed to have ended its flight.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman added that Malaysia, China and Australia have spared no expense in the hunt for the plane.
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 11,185 sq miles, according to officials.
The search area involved also has known depths of up to 19,685ft.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman 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 plans to release an interim report on the investigation on March 7, a day before the first anniversary of the disappearance.
Malaysia Airlines official website has been attacked by hackers claiming to be from the “Lizard Squad – Official Cyber Caliphate”.
The national carrier’s homepage currently shows a photograph of a lizard in a top hat and tuxedo.
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed its website was compromised but said customers’ bookings and data were not affected.
The airline is still recovering from two disasters; the disappearance of MH370 and shooting down of MH17.
On January 26, the main page of its website was replaced by the words “404 – Plane Not Found” and “Hacked by Lizard Squad”.
“404 Page not found” is the common error message displayed when a website cannot be loaded.
Initially the words “ISIS will prevail” appeared in the browser tab for the page, but that has since disappeared.
It is not clear why Malaysia Airlines has become the target of a cyber attack or what connection the hack has to Islamic State, the militant group sometimes referred to as ISIS which has declared an Islamic caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq.
Lizard Squad claimed on Twitter that it would release data from Malaysia Airlines, but did not specify what information it might have.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed in a statement that its “Domain Name System (DNS) has been compromised where users are re-directed to a hacker website”.
However, it said its own web servers were intact and the website itself had not been hacked into.
It said “this temporary glitch does not affect [customer] bookings” and user data “remains secured”. It added that it would take 22 hours to restore the website.
The hacker group Lizard Squad previously claimed to have disrupted Sony and Microsoft operations, with gamers unable to log on to XBox Live and PlayStation platforms over Christmas.
Malaysia Airlines apologized for a year-end promotion tweet that draw anger after it inadvertently drew parallels with the still-missing MH370 flight.
“Want to go somewhere but don’t know where?” read the post on Twitter that was meant to promote special deals by Malaysia Airlines, prompting scorn from online users.
Malaysia Airlines said the tweet “was intended to inspire travelers during this holiday period to explore destinations and deals” it was offering.
“Unfortunately, it unintentionally caused offence to some, and we have since removed the tweet,” it said in a brief statement.
It is the second time Malaysia Airlines, which has been devastated by the loss of 537 people in two air tragedies this year, has run into criticism over its advertising recently.
In September, the airlines said it had changed the name of a ticket-sale promotion that invoked an “inappropriate” death reference by asking travelers which places were on their “Bucket List”.
Bookings have plummeted due to the two disasters.
MH370 vanished in March with 239 passengers and crew aboard when it inexplicably diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course. It is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, but no trace has been found.
MH17 went down in July – believed hit by a surface-to-air missile – in rebellion-torn eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard.
Malaysia Airlines said on November 28 its Q3 loss widened 54% year-on-year in the wake of the disasters that have sent its business into a tailspin and prompted a government rescue.
Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government are being sued by two children whose father, Jee Jing Hang, was on MH370 flight that disappeared on March 8.
It is believed to be the first legal case filed in Malaysia since the incident.
The lawsuit accuses the civil aviation department of negligence for failing to contact the plane within a reasonable amount of time after it disappeared.
Flight MH370, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had 239 people on board.
Lawyers representing the two underage sons of passenger Jee Jing Hang filed the suit with the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
They are suing the national carrier for breach of contract, saying it failed to take all measures to ensure a safe flight. They are also suing civil aviation authorities, the immigration department and the air force for negligence.
Flight MH370, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared with 239 people on board
“We have waited for eight months. After speaking to various experts, we believe we have sufficient evidence for a strong case,” said their lawyer Arunan Selveraj.
“A big plane missing in this age of technology is really unacceptable,” he said.
The legal team said they would seek damages but did not give a figure.
In March a civil action case was brought in the US by a law firm on behalf of relatives. But a judge dismissed it, calling it an improper filing.
The Malaysian government believes MH370 ended its journey in the southern Indian Ocean, in seas far off the Australian city of Perth.
But there is no explanation yet for what happened to the plane or caused it to stray so far off course.
Despite extensive searches coordinated by Australian authorities, no wreckage of any kind has been found yet.
Some legal experts say this could hamper any lawsuits filed, as it leaves much to speculation.
One of the 298 people killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine was found wearing an oxygen mask, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has said.
Frans Timmermans indicated that not everybody on board had died instantly when the plane was hit by a missile.
According to an initial report, flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being pierced by objects at high velocity.
Frans Timmermans has now said he regrets the remark and upsetting families.
“The last thing I want is to add to their suffering in any way,” he said in a government statement released hours after he made the comment on the Pauw talk show on Dutch TV.
“I shouldn’t have said it.”
The Dutch public prosecutor has confirmed that an oxygen mask was found, although a spokesman said it was around the passenger’s neck rather than their mouth. It has been secured with elastic and tested for DNA and fingerprints.
One of the 298 people killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine was found wearing an oxygen mask (photo Getty Images)
The plane had been flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17 when it went down over rebel-held territory. Pro-Russian separatist leaders deny shooting it down with a missile.
Although 196 of the passengers were Dutch, the passenger with the oxygen mask was not, the prosecutor said on October 9. Dutch media said the victim in question was an Australian and the family had been informed about the development.
None of the other victims was wearing an oxygen mask, the public prosecutor added. The mask was from a Boeing 777 plane, but it was unknown how and when it had been put on.
Frans Timmermans is seen as one of the big hitters in the Dutch government.
He is due to leave his post shortly as foreign minister to take up a post as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s right-hand man.
He mentioned the oxygen mask during an interview with Jeroen Pauw, in which he was taken to task for an emotive speech he gave to the UN four days after flight MH17 was downed on July 17.
In his address to the Security Council, Frans Timmermans imagined the horror felt by the passengers “when they knew the plane was going down” and wondered whether they had looked each other in the eyes “one final time, in an unarticulated goodbye”.
He acknowledged that those on board would not have seen the missile hit the plane.
“But do you know that someone was found with an oxygen mask on their mouth – and so they had the time to put it on?” Frans Timmermans said.
He went on to say that nothing could be ruled out about the 298 victims’ final moments.
The official inquiry into the MH17 disaster had not made any mention of an oxygen mask being found on one of the victims.
However, several experts concluded that the plane would have disintegrated too quickly for the passengers to have known anything about it.
Victims’ families, angry that they had not been told about the oxygen mask before, were told by prosecutors that an inquiry was still being carried out and no conclusions had been drawn.
Although investigators were unable to visit the crash site because of fighting in the area, their initial report pieced together photographic evidence of the wreckage as well as cockpit and air traffic control data.
They said it pointed to “an in-flight break up” and added there was “no evidence of technical or human error”.
Malaysia Airlines plane was hit while flying at 33,000ft (10,000m) and debris was found over a wide area of eastern Ukrainian territory held by pro-Russian rebels.
The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has resumed in the southern Indian Ocean.
A ship equipped with specialized sonar technology has arrived in a remote stretch of ocean where the plane is believed to have ended its flight.
The Boeing 777, with 239 people on board, went missing after it veered radically off course on March 8.
Its whereabouts are still unknown despite a massive international air-and-sea search operation.
Australian officials believe the plane was flying on autopilot when it crashed.
Using satellite data, officials have concluded that the airliner ended its journey in the Indian Ocean, north-west of the Australian city of Perth.
The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has resumed in the southern Indian Ocean
On October 6, a vessel contracted by Malaysia, the GO Phoenix, began its work in the seas about 1,100 miles off western Australia.
It will tow underwater sensors over the sea floor scanning for traces of jet fuel and using sonar and video to try to locate the plane.
The Phoenix will be joined later this month by two ships sent by Dutch contractor Fugro. The operation could last at least a year.
The head of Australia’s transport safety agency, which is leading the underwater search, said he was “cautiously optimistic” the next phase – jointly funded by Malaysia and Australia – would eventually locate the plane.
“Cautious because of all the technical and other challenges we’ve got, but optimistic because we’re confident in the analysis,” Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“But it’s just a very big area that we’re looking at.”
The previous search was suspended four months ago to allow for detailed mapping of a 44,000 sq mile area of sea bed.
That survey uncovered previously unknown extinct volcanoes and depressions up to 1,400m deep.
The team searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has released detailed images of the seabed.
The new images reveal features such as extinct volcanoes and 1,400-metre depressions for the first time.
The collection of data from one of the most secret parts of the world is a by-product of the search.
Until now there were better maps of Mars than of this bit of the sea floor.
The Malaysia Airlines plane vanished without trace on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.
Twenty-six countries have helped look for the Boeing 777, but nothing has ever been found.
The aircraft was flying from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, to Beijing.
The new search images reveal features such as extinct volcanoes and 1,400-metre depressions for the first time
The team at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the hunt for the plane, is using sonar to map the new “priority” search area, at the bottom of the Southern Indian Ocean.
After that they will deploy two or three deep sea vehicles to begin the painstaking, inch-by-inch seabed search for wreckage.
The “priority” area is based on the only piece of hard evidence investigators have, which is a series of brief, electronic “hellos” between the Boeing and a satellite.
It is the equivalent of your mobile phone buzzing next to a loud speaker because it is checking in with a ground station, even when you are not making a call.
However, those “hellos” don’t give an exact location, just a very rough idea, so the smaller, “priority” area is still 23,200 square miles – an area roughly the size of Croatia.
Making sonar maps is vital to ensure the team does not crash its deep-water vehicles into ridges and volcanoes. The equipment is pulled along just above the sea floor by a 10km-long armored cable.
Snagging that cable could damage the kit, or even cut it free, so the maps help them avoid any obstructions.
The deep sea search vehicles have sonar that can pick out odd lumps, cameras that can double check if that lump is wreckage or just a rock and an electronic nose that can smell aviation fuel in the water, even if it is heavily diluted.
The operation to find flight MH370 is the most complex search in history.