The Malaysian government declared the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident Thursday, after 10 months of intensive searches for the ill-fated flight that went missing with 239 people on board.

Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Department of Civil Aviation director-general, told an emergency press conference that all the passengers and crew are presumed dead but search operations would remain "a priority."

"After 327 days and based on all available data as well as circumstances mentioned earlier, survivability in the defined area is highly unlikely," he said. He expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and hoped the declaration would enable them to obtain compensation.

The Boeing 777 lost contact with air control an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Based on satellite data, the flight is believed to have deviated from its original course and crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

Anadolu Agency