On Monday, the Ministry of Transport of Malaysia said that the government is open to continuing the hunt for flight MH370, if parties can present strong search plans.
MH370 is an aircraft in the Malaysia Airlines fleet that vanished in March 2014 with 239 passengers on board. The flight was scheduled to take off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and land in Beijing.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said, “We are more than willing to restart the search”. He added that it was important to “bring closure to this tragic accident”.
‘We don’t know what happened to MH370’
On March 8, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 people on board vanished after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
An hour into the flight, the plane lost contact but did not send out any emergency or distress signals.
Calculating the trajectory of the aircraft, experts focused search efforts on the South China Sea. But, evidence emerged that the plane may have changed its course mid-flight.
The US investigators studying MH370’s electronic signals suggested that the plane turned towards the Indian Ocean, ran out of fuel, and crashed.
Reports also found that several large pieces of debris believed to be parts of the aircraft washed up on the Indian Ocean coastline.
Some say the pilot deliberately crashed the plane. Then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that MH370’s communication and transponder systems were disabled.
“These movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane”, said Najib. Reports suggested that the pilot may have had a suicidal intent.
Other investigators suggested looking into the crew and passengers’ links to extremist groups. They floated ideas of an in-cabin fire triggering engine failure or decompression resulting in hypoxia.
A 1,500-page investigative report published by the Malaysian government evaluated all such theories.
The report found that the plane was off-course because of system glitches, but was manually turned back.
In 2018, the chief of Malaysia’s civil aviation authority Azharuddin Abdul Rahman resigned after the report said that air traffic control made several mistakes such as not initiating emergency protocols sooner.
In an emotional Facebook post, daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Nathan, Grace Nathan, said, “There is the issue of setting bad precedents, there is the issue of accountability and responsibility. There is the issue of prevention of something similar.”
Moreover, the report found that the pilot and first officer were healthy and not under any financial or emotional duress. It also suggested that “unlawful interference by a third party” into the flight operations could not be ruled out.
However, families were angry because the report remained inconclusive.
“Certainly, it has been a frustrating time for all of us as the search missions were unable to locate MH370”, said Loke.
MH370 search in Indian Ocean
The Guardian reports that 14 countries with 43 ships and 58 aircraft searched for MH370.
However, in 2017, Malaysia, Chin,a and Australia suspended search efforts after spending $141.6 million.
The Ministry of Transport said that a US- based exploration firm Ocean Infinity searched for MH370 for several months in 2018, using advanced technology, but was unsuccessful.
“The company had used hi-tech drones to scour the seabed, but did not locate the plane”, said the statement.
Minister Loke said that he was open to any new, convincing proposals by Ocean Infinity or other firms using credible technology.
He has not received any new proposals yet.
There were five Indian nationals on MH370. K S Narendran’s wife Chandrika Sharma was one of the missing passengers.
He said, “If I can just summarise the reactions, it has been disappointing, a sense of feeling deflated, and you know, a sense of degradation, [because it is] what we had already known all this while.”
Narendran added that the longer questions remain unanswered, the less comfort they feel.
However, he said that Loke agreeing to reopen investigations was “very reassuring”.
Referring to the intensity of this perplexing aviation tragedy, Loke said, “There are no word [sic] that can describe the feelings, pain, sorrow and sleepless night that the families and loved ones of those on board have gone through in these five years since that day.”
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer on Qrius
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