Malaysia Airlines flight 370

‘Useless for us to protest’: flight 370 victims' families angry, resigned as search ends

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 7:20pm

Relatives of some of the 152 Chinese who died aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 say they’re angry and demoralised by the suspension of search efforts.

After nearly three years, the hunt for the aircraft ended in futility and frustration Tuesday, as crews completed their deep-sea search of a desolate stretch of the Indian Ocean without finding a trace of the plane.

“Despite every effort using the best science available ... the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,” Malaysian, Australian and Chinese authorities said in a statement.

Li Xinmao, whose daughter and son-in-law were on the plane heading to Beijing, called Tuesday’s announcement “unacceptable” and the governments of Malaysia and China “irresponsible.”

“No matter how much we protested, they wouldn’t take our complaints, and it has become useless for us to protest,” Li said.

Timeline of the three-year search for doomed Beijing-bound plane

“Even so, I will continue to protest because I just can’t accept the result.”

Search crews spent nearly three years trawling a 120,000-square kilometre area where the plane was believed to have gone down, an effort that cost an estimated $160 million. They did not find the main underwater wreckage, the black box data recorder, or any sign of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the aircraft.

A team of international investigators said in December that the plane may have fallen in a different area based on where more than 20 items of debris have since washed ashore. But Australia’s transport minister said the new analysis did “not give a specific location of the missing aircraft,” and expanding the search based on that finding would be unlikely.

Nan Jinyan, whose brother’s fiancé was killed, said relatives had to accept the “fact that the missing plane can’t be found, maybe forever.”

Many Chinese relatives have long been frustrated with the investigation and what they said was a lack of credible information, at one point marching to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing.

In Chennai, India, K.S. Narendran never boards a flight without feeling terror. And he doesn’t expect that to change without answers to what happened to the plane carrying his wife three years ago.

His wife, Chandrika Sharma, was a passenger on the doomed flight.

“There’s not a day that passes without spending significant amount of time thinking about what the state of the search might be,” Narendran said.

“While it’s probable that we’ll never see our family members again, it doesn’t take away the fact that we would still like to know what happened.”

Watch: ‘Don’t abandon search’, MH370 kin plead

Narendran said he thought Australian officials wanted to “bury the search” rather than suspend it. A group representing victims’ families, Voice370, said extending the search was “an inescapable duty owed to the flying public.”

Scouring Madagascar beaches, desperate Chinese families search for MH370 clues and closure

Jeanette Maguire, who lost her Australian sister and brother-in-law, said she and others knew rescue efforts were too expensive to continue indefinitely.

“We were hoping and praying that that wouldn’t be it and we would have found something of significance for them to be able to keep searching,” Maguire said.

But for many others, finding closure remains impossible.

Lee Khim Fatt’s wife, Foong Wai Yueng, was a stewardess on Flight 370. Three years later, Lee still hasn’t held a memorial for his wife or touched her wardrobe or belongings in their home in Malaysia.

“I told my children to keep praying,” Lee said.

“As long as nothing is found, nothing is proven.”