The search for flight MH370 will end next week, Malaysia’s transport minister said Wednesday, more than four years after the plane disappeared and triggered one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.
The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished in March 2014 with 239 people — mostly from China — on board, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No sign of the jet was found in a 120,000 square kilometre (46,000 square mile) sea search zone and the Australian-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, was suspended in January last year.
After pressure from family members, the former Malaysian government struck a deal with US exploration firm Ocean Infinity to restart the search in January on the condition it would only be paid if the Boeing 777 or its black boxes were found.
The firm stood to make up to $70 million if successful but did not find any sign of the jet despite scouring the seabed with some of the world’s most hi-tech search equipment. Malaysia’s Transport Minister Anthony Loke, part of the new government that came to power following May 9 elections, said the hunt was officially meant to finish in April but had been extended, and would come an end next week.
“The search will continue until May 29,” he told reporters.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said earlier that the contract with Ocean Infinity was being reviewed, as his administration seeks to cut costs after accusing the allegedly corrupt former regime of leaving the public finances in bad shape. In a letter to the new administration released before the end of the search was announced, Voice370 — a group representing families of those on the plane whose members include Nathan — urged the government to undertake a “comprehensive review” of all matters related to the plane’s disappearance.