NEWS

The Search For MH370 Has Finally Been Called Off After Nearly Three Years

17/01/2017 10:47 SAST | Updated 17/01/2017 10:55 SAST
AFP/Getty Images

The exhaustive search for missing flight MH370 has officially been called off after nearly three years without locating the doomed Malaysia Airlines jet.

MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, sparking a massive, multi-million dollar and multi-nation search for the plane over a 120,000 sq km stretch of the Indian Ocean.

Authorities from Australia, Malaysia and China on Tuesday confirmed the search for the missing plane, which vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, was suspended.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters
Messages of hope have been left since March 2014, but the search has now been brought to a halt.

"Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean," the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) announced in a statement.

"Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft. Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended.

"The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness. It is consistent with decisions made by our three countries in the July 2016 Ministerial Tripartite meeting in Putrajaya Malaysia.

Prisca Bigot STR / Reuters
33 pieces of wreckage are suspected to have been found, including the wings and tail on the shores of Mauritius.

In July, authorities warned the search would be suspended if no new results were found, which the statement on Tuesday confirmed. To date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft, the statement said.

In December Australian Transport Safety Bureau analysis found the plane likely crashed north of the existing search zone.

Traces of the plane have been found washed up on the island country Mauritius, the French island Reunion and an island off the coast of Tanzania.

Reuters reports as many as 30 other pieces of wreckage found there and also at beaches in Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa are suspected to have come from the plane.

Timeline of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370:

March 8, 2014: MH370 flight departs from Kuala Lumpur, en route to Beijing, and loses contact with air traffic control

March 8,2014: A full-scale international search and rescue operation begins. Authorities target waters between Vietnam and Malaysia.

March 13, 2014: Search fails to find trace of MH370 where Chinese satellites spotted three "floating objects" in the ocean.

March 16, 2014: Malaysia calls for help from 25 countries, as search expands across 11 countries.

March 18, 2014: Australia leads new search for wreckage 3,000 kilometres south-west of Perth.

April 4, 2014: Malaysian authorities release transcript of pilot communication with the final words "all right, good night".

April 6, 2014: Black box was thought to be detected off Perth with signals detected, however signals fell silent days later. No trace of the missing plane was found.

April 30, 2014: Aerial search ends and the preliminary report is released the following day.

June 10, 2014: Search coordinator says the search could take more than two years.

October 8, 2014: Search moves south, off the Western Australian coast after Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed an underwater search would take place in September. Australia signed a $50 million contract to use two vessels for the search.

January 29, 2015: Malaysia announced all 239 passengers and crew are presumed dead, and MH370 declared an accident.

March 7, 2015: Malaysia's transport minister says new plan will be formulated and data will be re-examined.

July 29, 2015: Debris found on French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.

May 10, 2016: Fragment of plane wing found is in Mauritius, and later identified as part if MH370. It is one of 33 pieces suspected to be from the missing flight.

July 22, 2016: Officials announce the search for MH370 will be called off if plane is not found by December.

January 17, 2016: Search for MH370 officially called off.