Kuala Lumpur, May 29 (IANS) Malaysia on Tuesday ended a four-year hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 after searching more than 80,000 square kilometres without finding any traces of the aircraft.
The plane disappeared on March 8, 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who left office after losing the elections earlier this month, had signed a contract in January with the US company Ocean Infinity to track the area of the Indian Ocean where experts believe the plane crashed.
According to the agreement, Malaysia would have paid a reward of up to $70 million if the company had found the wreckage. But it found nothing and the Malaysian government said it has no plans to begin any new searches after the deadline for the search expired on Tuesday.
Grace Nathan, whose mother was on MH370, told the Guardian newspaper that she was opposed to ending the hunt. “People might think: ‘Why are these people still harping on about this, it’s been four years’. It’s important for people to remember that MH370 is not history,” she said.
According to the official investigation, flight MH370 disappeared from the radar about 40 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, after someone turned off the communication systems and turned the aircraft around.
So far, 27 fragments of the plane have been recovered at beaches in Reunion, Mozambique, Mauritius, South Africa and Pemba Island (Zanzibar), after they followed the currents of the Indian Ocean, according to the official hypothesis of the disaster.
From these retrieved pieces, experts confirmed that three wing fragments found in Reunion, Mauritius and Pemba belong to the MH370, another seven pieces, including parts of the interior of the cabin, are “almost certainly” from the missing aircraft and another eight bear a “high probability”.
Ocean Infinity’s operations followed the first phase of the search, which was undertaken by the Malaysian, Australian and Chinese authorities at a cost of more than $151 million and suspended in early 2017.
Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said a full report into the plane’s disappearance will be published in the future but did not give a date.