Underwater search for MH370 suspended

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Global search crews have examined more than 45,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean, where experts initially concluded the plane was most likely to be located, to no avail.

Australian MH370 search officials told me, when I met with them in Australia October a year ago, that the only challenge to the search at that time was money.

In a statement released by Malaysian Minister of Transport Sri Liow Tiong Lai, Australian Minister for Transport Darren Chester, and Chinese Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng, the underwater search would be suspended indefinitely in light of no new evidence of the airplane's whereabouts. More than twenty pieces of debris have so far been discovered, with only about seven having been confirmed as belonging to the plane, while the major part of the debris is still lying in an unknown final resting place.

Malaysia, Australia and China - the countries coordinating the search efforts - said the decision had not been taken lightly.

China's Jiang Hui, whose mother Jiang Cuiyun was also on MH370, said he was disappointed and angry that the search was being halted now.

The plane, and its 239 passengers, disappeared leaving few traces.

Why has the search been halted?

In December, investigators from the ATSB highlighted a new potential search area of 25,000 square kilometres north of the initial site where the deep ocean search had been focused. "I hope the Chinese and Malaysian governments stop lying to the families and return the passengers home".

No plane debris was found in the area.

"Expecting to determine the "precise location of the aircraft" before continuing the search was at best an erroneous expectation and at worst a clever formulation to bury the search".

New research by global experts published in December concluded that the plane was not in the search zone but may be further north.

"Fragmentary evidence from military radars and "pings" from the plane's own satellite communications system suggested that the Boeing 777 executed a series of turns that eventually led it to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean".

Next-of-kin association Voice370 said it was "dismayed" with the suspension and called on authorities to extend the hunt, which has cost upwards of Aus$180 million (US$135 million). Investigations conclude that it disappeared in the Indian Ocean but it was not able to find a trace of the aircraft or the reason why it disappeared. The search for the plane wreckage went on for more than two years after the incident without any success.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) report published in November said the flap from the aircraft's right wing was "most likely in the retracted position at the time it separated from the wing".

The finding published in November had cast doubt on theories that a pilot had been flying the plane when it landed in the sea.

The MH370 is a regularly-scheduled worldwide passenger flight by Malaysia Airlines. Some of the relatives of the MH370 victims had said that they are exhausted of waiting and made a decision to take matter into their own hands.

"(Staff from) Malaysia Airlines (Bhd) has called and informed us about the latest development.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told reporters that China remains "highly concerned" about the March 2014 crash that killed 239 people, almost two-thirds of them Chinese.

How rare are cases like this?

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