iStock/Thinkstock(ANSBACH, Germany) -- A suicide bomber is dead and 12 people are injured after an explosion outside a music festival in Germany Sunday.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said the suspect, a 27-year-old Syrian asylum-seeker who came to Germany two years ago, detonated a device after he was denied entry to the festival and the contents of his backpack could have killed more people.
Officials said Monday the suicide bomber had a video on his phone pledging allegiance to ISIS in which he described it as a “revenge” attack on Germany.
ISIS’ official media arm, Amaq, issued a statement Monday claiming the attack was carried out by an ISIS “soldier” based on their “inside source.” Amaq’s wording suggests the bombing was an ISIS-inspired attack rather than a directed attack.
German police said they had been keeping track of the suspect for crimes in the past and he previously attempted to commit suicide. The suspect was living in an asylum shelter in Ansbach, but his asylum application had been rejected, according to Herrmann. Herrmann also said he had been in treatment for depression.
Germany has experienced several deadly incidents over the past week including a shooting rampage at a Munich mall on Friday and an axe attack last weekend on a train near Würzburg. Sunday's attack was the third in Bavaria in a week.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Afghanistan has sustained a record number of civilian casualties during the first six months of this year, according to a United Nations report published Monday.
In addition, almost one-third of the 5,166 civilians killed or maimed in the first half of the year were children, according to the UN report.
The Human Rights team of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recorded 1,601 civilian deaths and 3,565 civilians injured between January and June of this year, the highest number of casualties within a six month period since record-keeping began in 2009, according to UNAMA. More than 1,500 of these civilian casualties were children, according to UNAMA.
This figure is "conservative" and "almost certainly underestimates" the actual number of civilians harmed, UNAMA said.
Nearly 64,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan since 2009.
“Every single casualty documented in this report – people killed while praying, working, studying, fetching water, recovering in hospitals – every civilian casualty represents a failure of commitment and should be a call to action for parties to the conflict to take meaningful, concrete steps to reduce civilians’ suffering and increase protection,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, said in a statement. “Platitudes not backed by meaningful action ring hollow over time. History and the collective memory of the Afghan people will judge leaders of all parties to this conflict by their actual conduct.”
The report also breaks down the responsible parties for the record number of civilian casualties.
UNAMA wrote that 60 percent of all civilian casualties could be attributed to "Anti-Government Elements (AGE)" which includes "all individuals and armed groups" fighting in opposition with the government of Afghanistan and/or international military forces. This includes "those who identify as 'Taliban,'" according to the report. Twenty-three percent of civilian casualties were a result of "Pro-Government Forces (PGE)." Thirteen percent of casualties were jointly attributed to AGE and PGF and the remaining 4 percent were caused by "unattributed explosive remnants of war," according to the report.
In addition, the report reveals the deliberate targeting of women, as well as the use of children in armed conflict, among other human rights violations.
iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- One woman died and another was severely injured after a tiger attacked them when they exited their vehicle while at the Beijing Badaling Wildlife World this weekend, according to Yanqing County government.
The incident, caught in part on surveillance video, took place on Saturday at an outdoor, drive-through animal park in China, where visitors can drive around in their cars and view exotic animals as if on a safari. The tragedy occurred when one woman exited her vehicle while in the Siberian tiger enclosure part of the animal park.
Surveillance footage shows a woman exiting the passenger side of the vehicle, walking over to the driver's side, and then standing outside of the vehicle while she seems to speak with someone inside the car. Suddenly a tiger pounces on her, dragging the woman away from the vehicle and off camera.
Two more people then jump out of the car, running after the woman and tiger, disappearing off camera.
The woman who died was a 57-year-old mother who was trying to save her daughter from the tiger, according to the South China Morning Post. The daughter, in her 30s, who is reportedly the one seen being dragged away by the tiger in the surveillance video, was severely injured, the paper reported.
Badaling Wildlife World was immediately closed following the incident, and an investigation is underway, according to the Yanqing County government's official blog.
Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince Harry said he regrets not discussing the death of his mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales, earlier in his life.
"You know, I really regret not ever talking about it," Harry, 31, told soccer player Rio Ferdinand at a barbecue he hosted at Kensington Palace for his "Heads Together" mental health initiative.
Prince Harry was just 12 years old in 1997 when he lost his mom, who died in a tragic car accident at the age of 36. Diana also left behind Harry's older brother Prince William, who was 15 at the time.
Ferdinand lost his wife to cancer last year and spoke to Harry about the challenges of her death and how it might affect his kids.
"He's gone through different stages in his life that my kids are going to be going towards," Ferdinand said of Prince Harry. "So to get some of his experiences is very rewarding for me and very educational in many ways."
Harry admitted it was only in the last three years that he has been comfortable opening up about his mother's death. He told the BBC Monday that it is critical for people to discuss life's challenges to help them get past life's adversities.
"It is OK to suffer, but as long as you talk about it. It is not a weakness," Harry said. "Weakness is having a problem and not recognizing it and not solving that problem."
Harry's comments came on the same day the fifth-in-line to the British throne released a new video for "Heads Together," the mental health campaign he formed and spearheads with his brother and sister-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The campaign brings leading mental health charities together to tackle often unspoken and taboo subjects that people are afraid to discuss, and encourages people to speak up about mental health.
Harry reminded people that anyone can suffer from mental health issues, even sports stars and members of the royal family.
"It is very easy for someone to look at someone like Rio Ferdinand and say, 'You get paid all the money in the world, you are a successful footballer, you have fast cars,'" Harry told the BBC. "But at the end of the day his wife was snatched from him at an early stage of his life with her. So of course he is going to suffer, it doesn't matter if he has an amazing job."
Harry's charitable focus over the next year centers on mental health awareness as well as raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, a cause also championed by his mother.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images(TAVISTOCK, England) — A massive mechanical puppet called the "Man Engine" was unveiled Monday at Tavistock, England where he will begin his tour of the Southwest part of the country to celebrate the area's mining history.
The "Man Engine" is the largest mechanical puppet ever constructed in Britain, according to the website of Balweyth Corninsh Mining, which built the giant "metal Cornish miner" that it describes as "part man, part machine."
The project celebrates the 10th anniversary of the recognition of the Cornish mining landscape as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Man Engine will embark on a 130-mile pilgrimage over the the next two weeks and visit the areas of all 10 Cornish mining World Heritage sites, which include "engine houses, miners’ cottages, grand gardens and miles of labyrinthine underground tunnels."
The puppet crawls at 4.5 meter high (nearly 15 feet) but "transforms" to stand at over 10 meters (nearly 33 feet) high, according to its website.
Social media posts show crowds gathering to witness the Man Engine as it made the first few stops of its journey.
(MUNICH) -- The 18-year-old gunman who officials say fatally shot nine people before killing himself at a busy shopping mall in Munich on Friday had been planning his crime for over a year and suffered from a range of mental health issues, according to officials.
The attacker, whom authorities have yet to identify, suffered from "social phobia," anxiety, was taking medication for these illnesses, and had been treated in a psychiatric clinic for two months in 2015, according to the Munich State Prosecutor's office.
In addition to the nine killed, 35 people were injured in the attack, of whom 10 are in critical condition.
The Bavarian Federal Criminal Office examined potential motives for the attack, but found nothing tangible to link the shooting to the massacre perpetrated by far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik in 2011, who killed eight people with a van bomb and 69 others in a shooting spree in Norway five years ago. Initial speculations about the shooting spree was that it related to the Breivik attack, due to it falling on the fifth anniversary of the murders in Norway.
"We didn't find the Breivik manifesto on his computer," the Bavarian Federal Criminal Office said. "He wrote his own manifesto, describing how he was going to do the crime."
The gunman, who was born in Germany and was of Iranian descent, did, however, harbor an interest in the subject of mass shootings: He kept a book that included case studies of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the high school students who murdered 12 classmates and one teacher at Columbine High School in 1999, and Cho Seung-hui, a student who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007.
On Sunday, the Bavarian Federal Criminal Office revealed that the shooter visited Winnenden, a small town where a school shooting took place, resulting in 16 deaths, including the suicide of the perpetrator, and took pictures there.
The killer also played first-person shooter games and obtained the murder weapon over the dark web, the Bavarian Federal Criminal Office said.
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(PORTSMOUTH, England) -- Prince William and Princess Kate boarded a catamaran adorned with the royal standard to cheer on the United Kingdom team at the America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth, England.
Kate is patron of the 1851 Trust, a sailing charity led by Sir Ben Ainslie who is captaining the British Solent and seeking to bring the America’s Cup back to the U.K. Ainslie is credited with masterminding the United States win at the last America's Cup in a come-from-behind victory sailing with the Americans.
The Royal couple stopped by Ainslie’s crew’s training base at the BAR Land Rover headquarters supporting the British challenge. Zac Kay, a 10-year-old sailing fan, asked Prince William the question every journalist was dying to ask but didn't get the chance.
"What did Prince George get for his birthday?” the young boy questioned.
Prince William replied coyly.
"I'm not telling,” William replied, adding, "He got too many things. He's far too spoiled. He's not into boats yet."
William and Kate were decked out in matching polo British team tops with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge written on the back. The future King and Queen rode in a chase boat at speeds up to 40 knots watching the U.K., U.S., Japan, New Zealand, France and Sweden teams race.
The teams are competing for points to take on the defending champs, the Americans, in Bermuda next year. Britain edged out the U.S. in the challenge Sunday in Portsmouth. William and Kate presented trophies to the competitors before a crowd of thousands.
iStock/Thinkstock(MUNICH) -- A teenager has been arrested in connection with Friday's deadly shooting in Munich.
German police said a 16-year-old Afghan, who had a friendly relationship with the shooter, was arrested Sunday night in a Munich suburb.
According to police, the teen reported himself to police on Friday and told them about his relationship with the shooter. He was arrested after police said they had reason to believe he knew of the shooting plot and did not report it when he made conflicting statements.
On Friday, 18-year-old David Ali Sonboly shot and killed nine people before taking his own life at a busy shopping mall in Munich. Officials said Sonboly had a book about the Columbine and Virginia Tech shooters at his home.
iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- The International Olympic Committee has voted not to impose a blanket ban on Russia's participating in this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over the country's state-directed cover-up of doping by its athletes.
In a statement released Sunday, the IOC declined to impose a total collective ban as recommended earlier by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), instead requesting that the international federation for each Olympic sport should evaluate which Russian athletes can be considered clean enough to compete.
Those athletes from Russia’s national Olympic team wishing to compete will now have to pass examination by the international federation of their sport, meeting criteria set by the federations themselves that will prove they are clean. No Russian athlete who has ever been punished for doping will be allowed to compete either.
That decision means that it is very likely that at least some of Russia’s 387 athletes from its national Olympic team will compete in Rio, though there remain steep practical challenges to their passing individual evaluations, with the games just two week away.
Within hours of the vote, the International Tennis Federation announced that it believed seven tennis players in Russia’s Olympic team had enough clean tests to meet the IOC criteria.
Russian officials immediately welcomed the IOC move as meaning the country would now take part in the Olympics. Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, told a news conference he was certain that the majority of Russian athletes would meet the criteria.
“We appreciate the IOC decision,” Mutko said. “I think in the situation that we find ourselves in, it’s an objective decision.”
The IOC’s ruling though is controversial, ignoring WADA’s recommendation that the scale of Russia’s state cover-up meant it should be excluded from the games. Some critics said that the IOC had dodged its responsibility to punish Russia for what they said was an unprecedented effort to undermine fair play at the Olympics.
“The decision regarding Russia participation and the confusing mess left in its wake is a significant blow to the rights of clean athletes,” Travis T. Taygart, the head of the U.S. anti-doping agency said in a statement. “It is so frustrating at this incredibly important moment, they would pass the baton to the federations who may lack the adequate expertise or collective will to appropriately address the situation within the short window before the games.”
Matthew Pincent, a British four-time Olympic champion rower, on Twitter called the decision “a cop out”.
The IOC, however, said it was intended to give clean Russian athletes a chance to compete while still punishing Russia for its system. Speaking in a conference call to reporters, IOC president Thomas Bach said the decision had been unanimous, with one abstention. He said the decisive factor had been the fates of athletes who would have been punished by a blanket ban despite having clean records.
“At the end of the day you have to be able to look into the eyes of the individual athlete concerned by your decision,” Bach said.
“The message is very clear. They have to assume a collective responsibility for such a system. On the other hand, it is a message of encouragement for the clean Russian athletes, that they have the chance to show they are clean and to participate in the Olympic games.”
Bach insisted that the criteria that federations imposed would be extremely rigorous, and the IOC noted that Russian athletes competing in Rio would be subject to additional doping testing. Refusing to allow participation by any Russian athletes ever punished for doping, even those who had served their sentences, is an unprecedented restriction.
Bach said that he would be “absolutely comfortable and fine” competing alongside any Russian athletes at Rio.
There had been opposition to a blanket ban, including from a number of international federations, such as the International Gymnastics Federation, and it appeared some federations would welcome the IOC’s decision.
The decision in part followed the model already imposed by the IOC around Russia’s track and field athletes, who were barred totally from the Olympics by their international federation, the International Association of Athletics Federations in June. The IOC then decided that those athletes able to meet criteria imposed by the international federation would be allowed to compete.
The federation set extremely tough criteria, with only one Russian athlete so far successfully passing it, long jumper Daria Klishina, who trains in the United States.
The IOC guidelines for the federations left more room, requiring that the athletes present enough “international tests.” Unlike those in track and field, other Russian athletes have been competing regularly outside Russia and many will have a large body of tests they can show.
Russian officials said Sunday’s IOC vote appeared to leave the ban on Russian track and field athletes’ unaffected, meaning the country’s presence at the Olympics will still be severely diminished. However, some of its most successful athletes, such as its gymnasts, are now very likely to compete.
Alexander Zhukov, the head of Russia’s national Olympic Committee said Russian sports federation officials had already been working with international federations, but acknowledged there was little time left to complete the vetting. Zhukov told Russian state TV that Russian officials had to start Sunday preparing their athletes' applications.
The IOC decision brought an uncertain end to a saga that has lasted for months, as successive news stories and international reports have uncovered the system developed by Russia to allow its athletes to dope. A WADA investigation first in November and then a second this month, showed how Russia’s sports ministry worked with its F.S.B. security service to falsify hundreds of positive doping tests, in particular at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Russia has always denied it ran a state-controlled system of doping, claiming the investigations and the calls for it to be banned were part of a U.S.-led plot. For months, Russian officials have zigzagged between denouncing the doping allegations as baseless lies and claiming they would fix them.
Sports minister Mutko has even at points claimed that Russia was defending world sport, saying it was resisting efforts to politicize it.
Though uncertainty remained around how many Russian athletes would now make it through the federation evaluations in time, many officials and coaches seem to believe the risk they would be barred was now virtually at an end.
“I’m very glad that it’s turned out this way,” Irina Viner-Usmanova, a senior coach of Russia’s gymnastics team, said on Russian state television.
Obtained by ABC News(MUNICH) -- The 18-year-old gunman who officials say fatally shot nine people before killing himself at a busy shopping mall in Munich on Friday had a book about the Columbine and Virginia Tech shooters at his home.
Police found a copy of a German translation of the 2009 book "Why Kids Kill," written by American psychologist Peter Langman, in the suspect's bedroom.
Among the 10 case studies the book investigates are the Columbine High School shooting by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that killed 12 students and one teacher in Littleton, Colorado, in April 1999, as well as the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University massacre by gunman Cho Seung-hui that killed 32 people at the college in Blacksburg in April 2007.
Investigators are still conducting searches of the apartment where the suspected attacker, who was born in Germany and of Iranian descent, is believed to have lived with his parents. Materials seized suggest the teen was particularly interested in frenzied attacks.
Both the fifth anniversary of the Norway massacre of 69 summer-camp youth by Anders Behring Breivik and the train axe attack on Monday in Germany “could be considered as motivations” for the gunman, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said during a news conference Saturday afternoon.
"I don't want to speculate, this needs to be investigated carefully," Herrman added. "There are clues that the perpetrator has been looking into rampages for some time, and that he was collecting information on that." The suspect was a student who was born and raised in Bavaria’s capital and who had a dual-citizenship with Iran. T
The deadly shooting began shortly before 6 p.m. local time at a McDonald’s across the street from Munich’s Olympia-Einkaufszentrum mall. Ten people are dead, including the gunman, and 27 others are injured. Among the dead were seven teenagers, a 20-year-old and a 45-year old.
There is no evidence tying the suspect to ISIS or terrorism, authorities said.
The gunman was later found dead of a gunshot wound at the scene. A police officer fired at the shooter when he was on a car park's roof, but an autopsy revealed that it wasn’t the officer that killed him.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack “a night of horror.”
“We are still under shock of the pictures and the reports of the witnesses and people who were going shopping on Friday evening or wanted to eat something, they are now dead,” Merkel said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
Police said it appears that the suspect hacked a Facebook account and sent a message urging people to come to the mall for a free giveaway prior to the attack. The posting, sent from a young woman's account, urged people to come to the mall at 4 p.m., saying: "I'll give you something if you want, but not too expensive."
"It appears it was prepared by the suspect and then sent out,” police investigator Robert Heimberger said at a press conference Saturday morning. The woman shortly after reported that her Facebook account had been hacked.
Police said the shooter was armed with a 9mm Glock pistol and was carrying more than 300 bullets in a backpack. Officials also found newspaper articles about school shootings and a pamphlet called “Why Pupils Shoot.” Police said they believe the teen was in therapy for mental health issues.
At the press conference this morning, Munich police president Hubertus Andrae described the tragedy as a "classic shooting rampage," "killing spree" and "shooting massacre." He said the suspect was the lone attacker and had "absolutely no" link to the issue of refugees.
Officials said the shopping mall where the shooting took place is in the process of reopening, but the fast food restaurant remains closed. The Olympia-Einkaufszentrum mall is located in what was the Olympic Village for the 1972 Munich Olympics, during which 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed along with a German policeman.
Munich mayor Dieter Reiter wrote on his Facebook page that Saturday was "a day of mourning."
U.S. President Obama was briefed on the situation, and later offered sympathies and pledged support to Germany -- which he described as one of America's closest allies. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that the United States condemns "the apparent terrorist attack" and would "make available any resources that would assist their investigation."
The Munich shooting comes just days after a 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked passengers with an axe and a knife onboard a train heading towards Würzburg at Heidingsfeld in Bavaria, southeast Germany. The attacker was shot and killed during an altercation with police after seriously injuring three People and fleeing the scene, a Bavarian police spokesman told ABC News. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility hours later.
iStock/Thinkstock(MUNICH) -- An 18-year-old, German-born male student was the gunman in the deadly shooting attack at Munich's Olympia-Einkaufszentrum shopping mall, which left nine victims dead and 27 injured, police said Saturday morning.
Of the 27 injured: 4 had bullet wounds, 10 are seriously injured, 7 people are lightly injured. The number of injured may change is others decide to seek medical treatment.
Police said the victims' ages were 15, 15, 14, 14, 14, 17, 19, 20, and 45, the latter of whom was female. (The other genders were not identified.)
The gunman killed himself at the scene of the attack, which began shortly before 6 p.m. at a McDonald's across the street from the mall. A police officer did fire at the gunman when he was on a car park's roof, but an autopsy revealed that it wasn’t the officer that killed him.
At a press conference Saturday morning, Munich police president Hubertus Andrae said there were "no evidence" of links to ISIS found in the gunman's home and described the tragedy as a "classic shooting rampage," "killing spree," and "shooting massacre."
Authorities are assuming there was no political motivation behind the attack, so the terrorism investigation is being shut down. The gunman was a dual German-Iranian citizen.
He added that the gunman was born in Munich, was the lone attacker, and had "absolutely no" link to the issue of refugees.
Police said they believe the gunman was in therapy for mental health issues..
Police investigator Robert Heimberger said the shooter was armed with a 9mm Glock pistol and had 300 rounds, and police are trying to locate where it came from. shot himself. Andrae said a rucksack belonging to the attacker contained 300 bullets. Police also found newspaper articles about school shootings and a book called “Why Pupils Shoot.”
Police have searched the apartment of the suspect’s parents. They also searched his room.
Heimberger said it appears that the gunman hacked a Facebook account and sent a message urging people to come to the mall for a free giveaway.
The posting, sent from a young woman's account, urged people to come to the mall at 4 p.m., saying: "I'll give you something if you want, but not too expensive."
Heimberger said "It appears it was prepared by the suspect and then sent out."
The woman shortly after reported that her account had been hacked.
Munich mayor Dieter Reiter wrote on his Facebook page that Saturday was "a day of mourning." Police president Andrae said the mall is in the process of reopening, but the McDonald's remains closed.
All subway services in the city were halted after reports that the suspect fled into the subway, and police appealed to people to clear the streets as they hunt for the gunmen. Public transportation has since been restored.
During a multi-hour manhunt, authorities directed people to avoid Munich's city center and shelter in place, after unconfirmed reports of further shooting.
President Obama was briefed on the situation, and later offered sympathies and pledged support to Germany -- which he described as one of America's closest allies.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the U.S. condemned "the apparent terrorist attack" and would "make available any resources that would assist their investigation."
The shopping mall where the shooting took place is located in what was the Olympic Village for the 1972 Munich Olympics, during which 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed along with a German policeman.
iStock/Thinkstock(MUNICH) -- A Duke University student who witnessed terrified shoppers fleeing the gunman who opened fire at a Munich, Germany, mall Friday, says she feels lucky to be alive.
Nine people were killed, and 21 were injured. Police killed the gunman, an 18-year-old dual German-Iranian citizen. His motive remains unknown.
Thamina Stoll, a senior at Duke interning in Munich for the summer, told ABC11 in Raleigh, North Carolina, she had just returned to her grandmother's apartment when she saw a woman running in the opposite direction of the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum shopping mall screaming that shots had been fired. Then, more people began fleeing the area, running past her grandmother's apartment near the mall.
"They were panicking, they were crying, and screaming," Stoll told ABC11 Friday in an interview via Facetime. "It was just so crazy. A few minutes later I started to hear sirens in the background. A helicopter appeared. Nobody knew what was going on. The sirens just wouldn't stop."
A regular at the mall, Stoll feels lucky to be alive. "Had I decided to go there for a third time, like 10 to 15 minutes earlier, I would have been dead right now," she said.
With public transportation temporarily shut down, it wasn't easy to leave the area quickly, so Stoll offered shelter to two families after the deadly attack.
Even though Stoll was safely ensconced in her grandmother's apartment -- police urged nearby residents to remain indoors -- she remains shell-shocked. "It was just terrifying," she says. "I still feel like I haven't really even processed it."
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pokemon Go nearly caused an international incident this week.
Two Canadian teenagers were apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol agents Thursday night after they inadvertently -- and illegally -- crossed the U.S.-Canada border while playing the location-based game on their phones, officials said.
The agents encountered the teens walking southbound from the Canadian province of Alberta, into Montana, while playing Pokemon Go, the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said in a statement.
Border Patrol agents quickly determined that the teens were unaware they had crossed the border, the statement added.
“Both juveniles were so captivated by their Pokemon Go games that they lost track of where they were," said the agency's public affairs officer, Michael Rappold. "They crossed the international border inadvertently, but agents were able to reunite them with their mother.”
Their mother, who was nearby on the Canadian side, was contacted by agents while the teens were being detained.
The teens were apprehended near Sweet Grass, Montana, which borders the town of Coutts, Alberta.
ATSB(NEW YORK) -- After two and a half years and more than 110,000 square kilometers of scouring the floor of the southern Indian Ocean, the hunt Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will soon come to a close; at least for now.
But some experts say that the debris discovered so far indicates that the plane glided down to the surface of the ocean, instead of falling out of the sky in some way.
In a joint statement from the Malaysian, Australian and Chinese ministers of transportation, the search will be suspended when crews finish the final 10,000 sq km remaining in the current search area.
“Ministers acknowledged that despite the best efforts of all involved, the likelihood of finding the aircraft is fading,” a joint press release said.
They added that this does not mean the end of the search for certain, but “should credible new information emerge which can be used to identify the specific location of the aircraft, consideration will be given in determining next steps.”
The current search area was determined an international panel of scientists and engineers, under the theory that the aircraft, with 239 people on board, ran out of fuel and fell into the ocean.
The quest to find the missing the Boeing 777 has yielded very little results despite several pieces of positively-identified debris washing ashore in Africa.
"While acknowledging the significance of the debris, ministers noted that to date, none of it had provided information that positively identified the precise location of the aircraft."
On Monday, the Australian and Malaysian governments confirmed a wing flap was being examined as possibly being part of MH370.
Experts say the debris discovered so far suggests the jet made a controlled decent and glided down on to the ocean surface.
“What we are finding in parts is more commensurate with the airplane having been ditched by a live pilot, and that would have been probably outside that box someplace,” said John Nance, ABC News aviation consultant and a former Air Force pilot. “That airplane, if so, is largely intact on the bottom somewhere.”
If the theory that someone glided the plane down onto the surface of the ocean is true, it could more than double the size of the search area.
The jet, bound for Beijing, took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport shortly after midnight, at 12:41 a.m. local time on March 8, 2014.
A couple of actions soon after the flight departed -- turning off the data transmission system and the transponder -- suggest that someone may have been alive and conscious inside the cockpit.
Bolstering this hypothesis is radar data, which shows that four minutes after the transponder shut off, the plane deviated from its planned route, doubling back on itself and flying back over Malaysia, then north along the Strait of Malacca, until it eventually dropped off Malaysian radar.
According to rudimentary satellite data -- the only data available, since the data system and transponder had been shut off -- the aircraft continued flying for about six hours, until it likely ran out of fuel over the Indian Ocean at just after 8:19 a.m. Malaysia time.