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Flight 370 Indian Ocean: Families of loved ones told of deaths via text message

NBC News
NBC News
The text message that officially informed families of Flight 370's missing passengers that the search for the plane was over.

Flight 370’s Indian Ocean fate, confirmed today as officially “lost at sea” by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, has left the families of the 239 passengers struggling with the news that their loved ones are now, according to the Malaysian government, deceased.

The means of communication however is being questioned. NBC News said today that the families of the passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines jet were sent a mass text, telling them of the likelihood that none on board survived.

The text read:

Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived. 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.

According to breaking media reports this morning, Najib referenced the text, saying that the family members had already been informed, before making the statement that Flight 370 fell into the ocean, ending any hope that the missing aircraft may have landed.

Missing plane: Search over, Malaysia says Flight 370 crashed in Indian Ocean

"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites," Najib said. "It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."

Multiple satellites over the last few days had pinpointed this area as a possible debris field. Australian navy ships, closest to the area, were on route to the locations.

Flight MH370: Chinese satellite spots 'plane-like' object floating in ocean

Now that the location of the downed plane has been pinpointed, the search for the plane is over, and the lengthy process of recovering debris, the plane’s “black box” cockpit voice and flight data recorder, and possibly bodies, can begin.

Family members of those lost on Flight 370 have been vocal about their growing frustrations over a lack of news and misinformed reports given to them directly by Malaysian officials.

Reported the NY Times last week:

To say many Chinese are exasperated, astounded or fed up with the way the Malaysian authorities have handled the investigation and search efforts is an understatement. Last week, people at the Lido Hotel lobbed plastic water bottles at Malaysia Airlines executives. Now they are clamoring for the head of anyone who had a hand in what they are calling a tragic farce, from the radar personnel who might have been asleep on the job up to the defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, whose announcement on Sunday about the sequence of events in the crucial minutes when contact with the plane was broken were contradicted on Monday by the airline’s chief executive.

CNN Money on March 21 suggested the families could potentially file suit against Malaysia Airlines for millions of dollars in damages, possibly sending the aircraft company into bankruptcy.

“Under an international treaty known as the Montreal Convention, the airline must pay relatives of each deceased passenger an initial sum of around $150,000 to $175,000,” CNN wrote.

If victims can prove that the airline failed to take all necessary measures to prevent the crash or failed in some way to respond early enough to reports of the missing plane, the potential lawsuits could be enormous.