Two years after disappearing, fate of missing Malaysian airliner continues to draw speculation – some of it wild.
The deep-sea search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 ended on Tuesday without any trace being found of the plane that vanished in 2014 with 239 people on board, the three countries involved in the search said.
The location of Flight MH370 has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries since the plane disappeared en route to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
“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.
The last search vessel left the area on Tuesday, the three countries said, after scouring the 120,000sq km area of the Indian Ocean sea floor that has been the focus of the almost three-year search.
Malaysia, Australia and China agreed in July to suspend the search if the plane was not found or new evidence uncovered once that area had been checked.
Australia last month dismissed an investigators’ recommendation to shift the search further north, saying that no new evidence had emerged to support that.
A next-of-kin support group called Voice 370 said in a statement that investigators could not leave the matter unsolved.
“In our view, extending the search to the new area defined by the experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety,” Voice 370 said.
Most of the passengers were from China.
The only confirmed traces of the plane have been three pieces of debris found washed up on Mauritius, the French island Reunion and an island off the coast of Tanzania.
As many as 30 other pieces of wreckage found there and on beaches in Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa are suspected to have come from the plane.
Voice 370 criticised the decision not to search waters north of the existing search zone based on a new analysis.
It called on the three nations to reverse their decision, while acknowledging the “tremendous effort” of the governments involved in the search.
The suspension of the search, while disappointing for the families of the victims, did not come as a surprise, said Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Sydney.
“Family members have got together and made a statement saying they are dismayed … they say the search must go on,” he said. “This search has cost in the region of $150m.”
Chandrika Sharma, an Indian national, was one of the 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 when it crashed.
Her husband, KS Narendran, said it was “mind-boggling” that Australia would not search an area north of the existing search zone where experts recently concluded the plane probably crashed.
Authorities want more specific information about the plane’s location.
Narendran said the families involved expect to one day get a “credible explanation to what has happened” even if they never see their loved ones again.
Without an explanation, Narendan said he feels there is a “good chance that this could happen in the future”.
The husband of a flight attendant, meanwhile, said he was extremely disappointed.
Lee Khim Fatt said that he still holds a small glimmer of hope that his wife, Foong Wai Yueng, is still alive somewhere.
Lee said that he has held no memorial for his wife and that all her possessions in their house have remained untouched.
“I told my children to keep praying. As long as nothing is found, nothing is proven,” Lee said. His two children are aged 7 and 13.