Asia

MH370 search: Investigators remain 'hopeful' on anniversary

  • 8 March 2016
  • From the section Asia
Media captionThe relatives of some of the passengers missing from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, say they still want answers.

Malaysia and Australia say they remain "hopeful" that flight MH370 will eventually be found, two years on from its disappearance.

The aircraft disappeared between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board.

Australian-led search teams are combing a 120,000 sq km (46,330 sq mile) area of the southern Indian Ocean.

Only one confirmed piece of debris, a part of wing called a flaperon, has been found, on Reunion Island.

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Malaysian investigators say key information is still being reviewed.

"At this time, the team is continuing to work towards finalising its analysis, findings, conclusions and safety recommendations on eight relevant areas associated with the disappearance of flight MH370 based on relevant information," lead investigator Kok Soo Choon said in a statement on state television on Tuesday.

Media captionGrace Nathan, whose mother was on board MH370, says she and other relatives desperately want the search to go on until it is found

The investigating team is led by Malaysia and includes experts from the US, China, Australia, France and Britain.

The search for the wreckage is estimated to have cost more than $130m (£92m).

The countries have said it will end once the current search area has been completely covered, likely to be around June.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said he remained "hopeful that MH370 will be found", but once the search zone is exhausted the three governments would meet to determine the way forward.

"We remain committed to doing everything within our means to solving what is an agonising mystery for the loved ones of those who were lost," he said in a statement.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption MH370 relatives staged a small protest outside a temple in Beijing on Tuesday
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (right) was among those observing a moment of silence in parliament on Tuesday

The prime minister said the search had taken place in some of the world's most inhospitable terrain at depths of up to 6km (3.7 miles) "across underwater mountain ranges, and in the world's fastest currents - the search team have been working tirelessly".

The Malaysian parliament observed a minute's silence in honour of the victims on Tuesday and about 20 Chinese relatives of those killed gathered at a Buddhist temple in Beijing to pray and shout slogans such as "Malaysia, return our loved ones!"

Martin Dolan, head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) which is co-ordinating the search, told the BBC the governments' positions were unchanged and the search would end soon "unless new and significant information comes to light".

Many relatives want the operation to continue until the plane is found.

Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester also expressed hope on the anniversary, saying finding the plane would "give answers to the world, in particular the families of missing loved ones, about what happened".

On Monday, relatives of 12 Chinese passengers filed lawsuits in Beijing.

Lawyer Zhang Qihuai said they were seeking a range of damages, but their goal was to determine the cause of the accident and those who were responsible.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Relatives want the hunt to continue even if nothing is found once the entire 120,000 sq km area has been searched

Families of 32 other passengers, mostly Chinese, have filed a separate lawsuit in Malaysia, and in the US, 43 passengers' relatives have sued in New York.

There are believed to be a number of other cases under way around the world.

Under international agreements, relatives have two years following an air accident to begin legal action.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The debris found in Mozambique late in February

Last year, authorities found a piece of wing on the shore of Reunion island in the Indian Ocean. It was later confirmed to be a flaperon from the missing plane.

A second suspected piece of debris was found last week in Mozambique.

It will be analysed in Australia by the ATSB, along with representatives of the plane's manufacturer Boeing and the Malaysian investigation team advising.

Although a long way from the suggested possible crash area, both finds are consistent with prevailing ocean currents that could carry debris across the Indian Ocean.

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