The Malaysian government has declared the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident.

The Boeing 777-200ER was flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia to Beijing Capital International Airport in China on 8 March 2014 when it disappeared from radar screens.

The plane’s whereabouts remains unknown despite an ongoing international search effort in the southern Indian Ocean focused in the waters far west of the Australian city of Perth.

Four vessels are currently searching the sea floor for the wreckage, but Malaysian officials said that the 239 people on board the aircraft are now presumed dead.

The official declaration should open the path to compensation payments to the relatives of the victims.

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