The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 must continue, relatives of passengers on the plane have said after officials confirmed the suspension of the search on Tuesday.
The group, Voice370, said in a statement that it was dismayed by the announcement from the Australian government’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, the organisation responsible for leading the search.
Voice370 said a review by experts last month that recommended a new search area of 25,000 square kilometres “is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety.’’
The Australian government’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which has taken the lead in the 160-million-dollar search for the plane, said the hunt has now been officially suspended after finishing a final sweep of the search zone.
“Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the Southern Indian Ocean,’’ said a joint communiqué from Malaysia, China and Australia, the three countries involved in the search.
In July, Malaysia, China and Australia had agreed to suspend the search if no “credible new evidence’’ about the plane’s location was discovered.
“Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft,’’ the statement said.
The aircraft went missing on March 8, 2014 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, including the crew.
The plane is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean.
Last month, a review based on analysis by a team of international experts and investigators said the underwater search zone probably did not contain the missing aircraft and instead identified an additional area of 25,000 square kilometres that could contain the wreckage.
The conclusion had raised the prospect of the search being continued, but the announcement on Tuesday has now quashed that possibility.
The search was the most expensive and exhaustive in aviation history.
“The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness,’’ according to the joint statement.
“Today’s announcement is significant for our three countries, but more importantly for the family and friends of those on board the aircraft
“ We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located.’’