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For 16 days, they waited. They hoped for a miracle, and they feared what each passing day seemed to prove more likely.

Monday, families of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were told what they never wanted to hear — some of them through a text message.

The text read:

"Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that management informed the majority of families in person and by telephone before the prime minister's announcement. The statement said text messages were used "only as an additional means of communicating with families."

Sarah Bajc, the girlfriend of Malaysian​Airlines Flight 370 passenger Philip Wood, said she received the text message from the airline "a few minutes" before the prime minister's TV appearance.

Other relatives received the news about their loved ones in different ways.

About 50 relatives of passengers in Beijing were called to a hotel near the airport to hear the news. Afterward, they filed out of a conference room in heart-wrenching grief.

One woman collapsed and fell on her knees, crying, "My son! My son!"

Some relatives at hotels in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur were notified in person of the imminent late-night news conference, and some heard over the phone.

Wang Zhen, whose father and mother, Wang Linshi and Xiong Yunming, were aboard the flight as part of a group of Chinese artists touring Malaysia, said he heard the announcement on television in the hotel where he has been staying.

"My mind is a mess right now. Can we talk later?" he said by telephone.

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