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Malaysia Airlines flight 370

MH370 victims’ families outraged as search for missing plane ends after three years

‘Commercial planes cannot just be allowed to disappear without a trace’ says support group Voice370

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 11:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 11:45pm

Victims’ families and support groups were outraged yesterday as the international underwater search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was suspended, nearly three years after it vanished without a trace over the Indian Ocean.

The leaders of the search, Malaysia, China and Australia, jointly decided to call it a day after scouring 120,000 sq km of open ocean, at a cost of US$135 million, to no avail.

“Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,” they stated in a joint communique. “The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness.”

The Boeing 777 disappeared early in its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board. Two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese nationals.

Fragments of the missing aircraft washed ashore, first on Reunion Island, and later along Africa’s eastern coast, prompting concerns as to whether the right area was being searched.

Expert analysis in a report last month by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau concluded that the wreckage of MH370 was likely to be located within an area of 25,000 sq km that is north of the search zone.

But with no action taken to explore the newly identified area of interest, the last search vessel pulled out yesterday.

Among the first to express disappointment at the suspension was Voice370, a support group for victims’ families.

“Commercial planes cannot just be allowed to disappear without a trace,” the group said. “Stopping at this stage is nothing short of irresponsible, and betrays a shocking lack of faith in the data, tools and recommendations of an array of official experts assembled by the authorities themselves.”

Chinese families looking for closure shared the outrage.

Li Xinmao, who lost his daughter and son-in-law in the air disaster, called it “unacceptable” that the search had been called off.

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

Malaysia Airlines yesterday said that it remained “hopeful that in the near future” new and significant information would come to light so the missing plane could be found.

Peter Bellew, the group chief executive of the carrier, said he believed the search would take a completely different course going forward. He suggested a desk-based approach to review the data and evidence at hand with a view to harnessing future advances in search technology.

Bloomberg, Associated Press