The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing almost three years ago, will end in two weeks after the search is completed of a 120,000 square kilometer area in the southern Indian Ocean where the plane is assumed to have come down.
The decision was made public on January 6 by Malaysia’s transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai, who told reporters the search of the area would be completed and the hunt would then end in the absence of any “credible clue” suggesting it to be extended.
However, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which has been leading the search mission, said in a report last month that the Boeing jet is almost certainly not in the current search zone and may be further north. Thus, investigators recommended that the search be extended by 25,000 square kilometers to an area further north in the Indian Ocean, after conceding for the first time they were probably looking in the wrong place.
But the governments Australia, Malaysia and China, where most of the passengers were from, said the report’s findings were “not credible” and agreed to pull the plug on the operation once the current search area was fully scoured.
“We cannot just base [a search] on assumptions. We need credible clues to look for the plane,” said Liow when asked about the possibility of a search further north.
But the next-of-kin of the passengers of the missing plan are not convinced.
In a statement, the international group called Voice 370 called on Malaysia, Australia and China to consider the next step before the current search ends.
“Extending the search to the new area defined by experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety,” the statement said.