The "painful reality" that no one in the ill-fated Flight MH370 survived has to be accepted on the evidence presented last night that concluded the Boeing 777-200ER fell into the Indian Ocean, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said today.
"Based on this evidence, the prime minister's message was that we must accept the painful reality that the aircraft is now lost and that none of the passengers or crew on board survived," MAS chairperson Md Nor Md Yusof told a solemn press conference this morning.
Md Nor described the news as a "sad and tragic day" for the airliner but added that it was not unexpected, after an intensive search across an area of 2.24 million square miles for more than two weeks.
Also at the press conference was an emotional MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya who delivered his message from a written statement.
"I stand before you today not only as the CEO of Malaysia Airlines, but also as a parent, as a brother, as a son.
"We all feel enormous sorrow and pain. Sorrow that all those who boarded Flight MH370 on Saturday, March 8, will not see their families again.
"And that the families will now have to live on without those they love," Jauhari said.
'More funds on the way'
Malaysia Airlines has handed out US$5,000 to the next-of-kin of each passenger as initial financial support, and is preparing to offer additional payment in recognition of the financial strain on them.
"We recognise that financial support is not the only consideration. But the prolonged search is naturally placing a financial strain on the relatives."
However, "no amount of compensation will help with the loss, and we accept that," said Jauhari, who did not elaborate on details of the future compensation payment.
The airline's focus was on providing care and support for the families of the passengers and crew of MH370, who number almost 1,000 people, he added.
Jauhari ( right ) also denied MAS was isolating the family members from the public, stressing it was to ensure their comfort and privacy during trying times.
MAS was also prepared to fly family members to the recovery site in Australia, he said, noting that Australia had said it would grant visas to Chinese families only after the first piece of conclusive evidence was retrieved from the ocean.
'Loss was rational deduction'
The grim news delivered late last night had been met with shock, and even denial, particularly in Beijing and MAS was today asked how it arrived at the conclusion that everybody on the aircraft had perished.
MAS chairperson Md Nor was firm in not wanting families to harbour false hopes by expressing his confidence in the information received, but said the details could only be provided by the authorities.
"From the evidence given to us, and by rational deduction, we could only arrive at that conclusion - for MAS to conclude it has lost its plane and, by extension, the people in the plane," Md Nor said.
He also addressed the angry reaction against the airliner after the news broke, including accusations that MAS was "heartless".
"It is a time of extraordinary emotions, we fully understand. In fact, we feel for the next of kin, in terms of how they react, it is emotional," he said.
Md Nor pointed out that the close-knit Malaysia Airlines family was similarly saddened as 12 of its crew members were among those lost.
Responding to criticism that MAS had delayed the investigation, he said the airliner had reported to the authorities as soon as Flight MH370 was lost and it had been in the hands of investigators ever since.