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Malaysia's government has officially declared the disappearance of flight MH370 an 'accident,' fulfilling a legal obligation that will allow efforts to proceed with compensation claims.

The country's civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said on Thursday that Malaysia, China and Australia had spared no expense and resources in their search for the plane adding that finding the Boeing 777 "remains a priority".

"It is therefore with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that we officially declare Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident," Rahman said in a pre-recorded message.

"It is hoped that this declaration will enable families to obtain the assistance they need, in particular through the compensations process," he said.

It could very well be that the plane crashed. But there is no evidence, and until there is evidence we just can't believe them.

Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood was on board MH370

He said all 239 passengers and crew on board were presumed to have lost their lives, just hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8.

Not a single piece of debris from the plane has been found.

Authorities previously said the plane, which disappeared less than an hour into its flight, was likely to have been diverted deliberately far off course.

A multi-nation search for the plane was under way in the Indian Ocean after Malaysia said satellite data indicated it may have gone down.

The search involved at least nine ships and nine planes, covering a search area of 221,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean.

The Malaysia Airlines' brand has been severely damaged after it faced a second disaster in July, when its Flight 17 was blasted out of the sky as it flew over an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

The tragedies forced the carrier to launch a $1.9b overhaul to revive its charred image, including the sacking of 6,000 workers, which makes up about 30 percent of its staff.

Source: Agencies