Malaysia on Tuesday ended its four-year hunt for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March 2014, with the latest search, funded by a private American firm, coming to an end.
Malaysia last week announced its decision to not renew an agreement with exploration company Ocean Infinity after it expired on May 29. In January, the government had agreed to pay the company $70 million (Rs 478 crore) if it solved what has become modern aviation’s greatest mystery.
Since Ocean Infinity found nothing, Malaysia decided not to renew the agreement or begin a new search. The announcement was a part of newly-elected Mahathir Mohamad administration’s decisions to cut government spending. The country has a debt of $252 billion (Rs 17 lakh crore).
The country’s transport minister, Anthony Loke, has said that a full report would be published on the disappearance but has not said when.
Some family members of the passengers have urged the government to continue the search. Grace Nathan, whose mother was on MH370, told The Guardian, “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.”
S Narendran, whose wife was on the flight, was quoted as saying, “I am barely able to contain my deep sense of betrayal.” “It is barely possible to conceal anger at a decision taken without the courtesy of a meeting and consultation with affected families.”
They also questioned why the government was worried about spending money since Malaysia had a “no find, no fee” deal with Ocean Infinity. They added that other countries, such as India and China, should contribute to the search efforts.
“This is an incident that if unresolved, could happen again,” Nathan said. “They could also ask companies like Boeing or Airbus to contribute. They stand to benefit immensely from safer air travel, are highly profitable and make billions and billions.”
The aircraft went missing on March 8, 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Several teams from different countries have looked for the Boeing 777 in a 1.2 lakh-sq-km area of the Indian Ocean.
Australia, China and Malaysia ended fruitless attempts to solve the mystery in January 2017. The hunt for the aircraft was also riddled with controversy, with many experts saying the teams were searching for the flight in the wrong area. Debris from the aircraft was found on the French island of Reunion, in Mozambique, South Africa, Rodrigues Island and Mauritius, among other sites.
Investigators believe someone may have deliberately switched off the transponder of the aircraft, making it difficult to trace.