Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razar said Monday that a new analysis of electronic data shows that the missing Malaysian airlines with 239 people aboard went down in a remote area of the Indian ocean and indicated there were no survivors.
Just before the prime minister spoke, Malaysian Airlines sent a brief text message to family members of the passengers saying, "(w)e have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived.
Razar said further analysis of data that earlier had sketched a possible flight path now finds that the plane flew along a southern corridor west of Perth, Australia.
"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing site," he said in a brief, televised statement. "It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that according to this new data flight MH370 3 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."
The plane, which had left Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, was last heard from on March 8.
Just before the announcement, family members of the victims were sent a text message informing them of the findings.
The purported crash area is the same location west of Perth where satellite images have shown signs of debris that could be connected to the missing Boeing 777.
A Chinese plane had already reporting spotting "suspicious objects in the southern Indian Ocean" during its search for the missing Boeing 777 and a separate Australian plane also spotted potential debris, said to be "circular" and "rectangular," boosting hopes Monday that clues to the jet's fate may shortly be recovered.
However, rain and poor weather conditions slowed down the search in the area about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, and while the objects are giving fresh momentum in the hunt for the plane that went missing on March 8 with 239 people aboard, the unidentified objects were being treated as new leads in the case that has baffled investigators for over two weeks rather than concrete evidence.
Malaysia's transport minister said in his daily news conference earlier that both objects sighted by Australia are orange in color and that the sighted objects may be recovered by an Australian ship in as soon as a few hours.
Hishammuddin said the missing jetliner had been carrying wooden pallets in its cargo hold.
And speaking to parliament, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: "I can advise the House that HMS Success is on the scene and is attempting to locate and recover these objects," adding that 'one of the great mysteries of our time" may be closer to being resolved.
The crew of the Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 plane saw the objects in an area that had been identified by satellite imagery as containing possible debris from the missing plane, China's state news agency Xinhua reported. The crew relayed the coordinates of the objects to the Australian command center and to a Chinese ship, the icebreaker Xuelong, which is on its way to the location.
China earlier released a satellite image captured Tuesday depicting an object located about 75 miles south of where an Australian satellite picked up an image of two objects a week ago.
A Xinhua correspondent aboard the IL-76 aircraft said the Chinese crew spotted two large floating objects and several smaller, white objects scattered over several kilometers.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the search area was expanded from 22,800 to 26,400 square miles, including a new separate area based on data provided by France and made public Sunday. It is not thought that the French debris sightings are near the area where China and Australia have spotted floating objects.
Contributing: William Cummings; Kim Hjelmgaard from London