Malaysia Promises to Continue with MH370 Search

Five years after MH370’s disappearance on 8 March 2014, Malaysia is open to restarting the hunt.
Monday 4 March 2019

There may be no new search planned yet but Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said at the fifth annual MH370 remembrance event at Publika Shopping Gallery that the government was open to hearing proposals to resume the hunt. Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad has promised to continue the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, almost five years afters its disappearance.

In an interview with Australia’s 60 Minutes, Mahathir said, “One of the things that I heard from the beginning was that the plane was hijacked. “But a plane of this size going down into the sea or land must leave signs. It’s as if the plane just vanished,” he said.

“For as long as there is hope, we will continue to think of ways and means to find out the plane’s fate. We intend to continue the search,” Mahathir told Danica Weeks, whose husband Paul was one of 239 on board the plane when it vanished in 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, in what has become one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries. “Losing an aircraft is one thing, but losing people is something else,” Mahathir said. “You can’t sleep thinking about what has happened, you keep on asking yourself that question and you get no answer.”

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Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 steward Patrick Gomes, and Grace Subathirai Nathan, daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Daisy, show pieces of debris. Photo: Mohd RASFAN / AFP

So far, the only sign of the aircraft has been debris that washed up in eastern Africa and nearby islands, far from where experts believed the flight disappeared. A wing fragment and part of the plane’s flaperon, which is on the wing, are among the remnants that have turned up. Mahathir dismissed speculation over the role of the plane’s pilot in the disappearance, pointing to the man’s long career and lack of a clear motivation. “I cannot think that a person who has been flying for so long, a very senior pilot, would do that,” he said.

The Malaysia Airlines plane vanished in March 2014 with 239 people onboard en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No sign of it was found in a 120,000sq km Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January 2017. The fifth annual MH370 remembrance event was held at Publika Shopping Gallery and organised by Voice 370, an association of families of passengers and crew members on board MH370 where debris from the aircraft was displayed.

Memorial Day

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Family members with unaccounted for loved ones hold lit candles during a memorial event ahead of the fifth anniversary of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Photo: AFP

Two out of the only three pieces of debris confirmed to be from the ill-fated flight MH370 were put on display for the first time at the memorial for public viewing. This included the biggest debris found, a wing flap discovered on Pemba Island off the Tanzanian coast in 2016 measuring 1.5 metres by 2.5 metres, and the rear edge of an outboard flap found on Ilot Bernarche, Mauritius the same year.

“One piece was discovered in Tanzania. It travelled thousands of kilometres to Africa, from a plane that was supposed to land in China. “For us family members, it is very overwhelming to have this piece here,” said Grace Subathirai Nathan, daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Daisy. According to a report by The Star, The Voice 370 spokesman said though it had been five years, it was unfortunate that the message continued to be the same. “We want the search to continue and we want to keep MH370 alive in the minds of everyone here and in the aviation industry,” said Nathan.

According to The News Straits Times, Jacquita Gonzales, whose husband Patrick Gomes was a crew member on the flight, said there was “no closure until the plane is found, until we exactly know what happened to the aircraft and our loved ones on board. “It gets tougher every year, because we are all expecting some answers.”

The official search for MH370, carried out by Malaysia, China and Australia, was called off in January 2017, after costing upward of US$150 million. A second search, carried out on a no-find, no-fee basis by US-based company Ocean Infinity, ended last year after a fruitless 90-day sweep of the southern Indian Ocean. Ocean Infinity said it had covered 112,000 square kilometres of the ocean floor, but ultimately found nothing.

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A recovered Boeing 777 wing flap identified to be part of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Photo: Mohd RASFAN / AFP.

In July last year, Malaysian authorities said they had failed to determine the cause of the plane’s disappearance, though they did rule out several possibilities. Speaking at a press conference near the capital Kuala Lumpur, lead investigator Kok Soo Chon said MH370 turned back toward Malaysia under manual control, but it could not be determined whether the plane was being flown by the pilot or if there had been any unlawful interference. Chon went on to rule out other factors that had been questioned in the demise of the flight, including the pilot’s mental state, aircraft malfunction, or remote control of operation systems.

“The disappearance of MH370 and the search effort are unprecedented in commercial aviation history,” the Malaysian report said. In a long-awaited final report into the tragedy released in July last year, the official investigation team pointed to failings by air traffic control and said the course of the plane was changed manually. But they failed to come up with any firm conclusions, leaving families of those onboard angry and disappointed.

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Source: CNN International, The Star, New Straits Times

Related: Updated: We Still Don’t Know What Happened to MH370 & Civil Aviation Head Resigns