Four Years On, MH370 Families Await Report as Search Ends for Missing Plane

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Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 with the registration number 9M-MRO flies over Poland
Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER with the registration number 9M-MRO flies over Poland February 5, 2014. The aircraft flying as MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, less than an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. REUTERS/Tomasz Bartkowiak
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By Rozanna Latiff
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters)

Malaysia’s new government has promised to release a long-awaited report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as a privately funded underwater search ended on Tuesday

Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, vanished enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, becoming one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

The government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last week that U.S. seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity, which had scoured the southern Indian Ocean for the aircraft since January, would end its hunt on Tuesday.

The previous administration of Najib Razak, who was defeated in a stunning election upset on May 9, had promised up to $70 million to the Texas-based firm if it found the plane within 90 days.

 

Handout photo of a Boeing 777 flaperon cut down to match the one from flight MH370 found on Reunion island off the coast of Africa in 2015 being lowered into water to discover its drift characteristics
A Boeing 777 flaperon cut down to match the one from flight MH370 found on Reunion island off the coast of Africa in 2015, is lowered into water to discover its drift characteristics by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation researchers in Tasmania, Australia, in this handout image taken March 23, 2017. CSIRO/Handout

 

Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke, said a full report into MH370’s disappearance would be published in the near future, but he did not give a date.

“I can assure you the final report will be published with full disclosure. There will not be any edits, or anything hidden,” he told reporters late on Monday.

 

Asked whether the report would refer to controversial elements of the MH370 case, he said: “To me, whatever elements, we will just publish it”

Last year, Australian authorities said the MH370 captain had flown a route on his home simulator six weeks before the disappearance that was “initially similar” to the course actually taken by the aircraft.

 

French gendarmes and police inspect a large piece of plane debris which was found on the beach in Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion
French gendarmes and police inspect a large piece of plane debris which was found on the beach in Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Zinfos974/Prisca Bigot

 

Peter Foley, who led the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s search efforts, told an Australian Senate hearing “control inputs” had been made to fly the airliner off course, but he could not say if one of the pilots had done so.

Malaysian investigators said in 2015 they had found nothing suspicious in the financial, medical or personal histories of the pilots or crew.

 

FAMILIES CALL FOR REVIEW

The decision to engage Ocean Infinity came after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200-million ($159 million) search across a 120,000 square-kilometre (46,332 square mile) expanse of the Indian Ocean last year.

 

A woman leaves a message of support and hope for passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur
A woman leaves a message of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

 

 

This was despite investigators calling for the target area to be extended north by 25,000 square kilometres (9653 square miles).

Ocean Infinity CEO Oliver Plunkett said on Tuesday their team had searched more than 112,000 square kilometres (43,243 square miles) of ocean floor in a little over three months.

While the outcome was “extremely disappointing“, Plunkett hoped the company would be able to offer its services again in a future search for the airliner.

 

 The shadow of a RNZAF P3 Orion maritime search aircraft can be seen on low-level clouds as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
The shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion maritime search aircraft can be seen on low-level clouds as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 March 31, 2014. Rob Griffith/Pool via REUTERS

 

Asked if China would consider further funding for the search, or whether search organisations had asked China for more resources, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had always maintained close communication with the relevant parties.

“We will continue to maintain communication with relevant parties,” Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Voice 370, a group representing the relatives of those aboard the flight, has pressed the new Malaysian government to review all matters related to MH370, including “any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance”.

 

A crew member aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft is pictured alongside handwritten notes of other search craft in the area, during a search for the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 over the Indian Ocean
A crew member aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft is pictured alongside handwritten notes of other search craft in the area, during a search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean, March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed

 

Calvin Shim, whose wife was a crew member on the plane, said he was concerned that the accident report would not include key information such as the plane’s full cargo manifest and the results of a separate investigation by Malaysian police.

“We know that this issue is already four years old and a lot of people involved want closure,” he said.

“These four years have not been fun to us, the families.”

 

 

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the search had tested the limits of technology and capacity of experts and people at sea.

It would only resume if there was “credible evidence which identifies a specific location of the missing aircraft“.

“We will always remain hopeful that one day the aircraft will be located,” McCormack’s office said in a statement.

The only confirmed traces of the plane have been three wing fragments found washed up on Indian Ocean coasts.

 

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in SINGAPORE, Michael Martina in BEIJING and Colin Packham in SYDNEY; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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