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Malaysia officially declares MH370 passengers and crew ‘presumed dead’

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The Phoenix Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Artemis being recovered onto Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after completing a mission in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, April 17, 2014.

(CNN) — The government of Malaysia has officially declared the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 an accident and all of its passengers and crew presumed dead.

But the search for the missing Boeing 777 will continue.

The formal declaration, read Thursday by civil aviation director Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, will allow the families of those presumed dead to continue the compensation process with the airline or with insurers.

“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 in accordance with the Standards of Annexes 12 and 13 to the Chicago Convention and that all 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” Azharuddin said.

MH370 disappeared from radar on March 8, 2014, after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.

It is believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean far off the western coast of Australia.