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[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia declared Flight 370 an accident and all 239 people on board as presumed dead to help families obtain assistance, including compensation.
Malaysia Airlines is ready to immediately proceed with compensation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Department of Civil Aviation, said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. The search for MH370 will remain a priority, he said.
Australia is leading the efforts to locate debris of MH370 in some of the remotest and deepest parts of the Indian Ocean in the world's longest search for a jet in modern aviation era. The aircraft's disappearance March 8 on a routine flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur has puzzled authorities as no distress signal came from the Boeing Co. 777-200 plane before it went off radar screens.
"After 327 days and based on all available data as well as circumstances mentioned earlier, survivability in the defined area is highly unlikely," the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia said in the statement.
"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 and that all 239 passengers and crew onboard MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives."
Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd has taken the airline private and is restructuring the flag carrier as traffic fell after the carrier lost MH370 in March and MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July. The two accidents killed a combined 537 people.