SYDNEY (Reuters) – The deep-sea search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 ended on Tuesday without any trace being found of the plane that vanished in 2014 with 239 people on board, the three countries involved in the search said.
The location of Flight MH370 has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries since the plane disappeared en route to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
“Despite every effort using the best science available … the search has not been able to locate the aircraft,” Malaysian, Australian and Chinese authorities said in a statement.
The last search vessel left the area on Tuesday, the three countries said, after scouring the 120,000-sq-km (75,000-sq-mile) area of the Indian Ocean sea floor that has been the focus of the almost-three-year search.
Malaysia, Australia and China agreed in July to suspend the search if the plane was not found or new evidence uncovered once that area had been checked.
Australia last month dismissed an investigators’ recommendation to shift the search further north, saying that no new evidence had emerged to support that.
A next-of-kin support group called Voice 370 said in a statement investigators could not leave the matter unsolved.
“In our view, extending the search to the new area defined by the experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety,” Voice 370 said.
Most of the passengers were from China.
The only confirmed traces of the plane have been three pieces of debris found washed up on the island country Mauritius, the French island Reunion and an island off the coast of Tanzania.
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.
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Jonathan Barrett in SYDNEY; Editing by Robert Birsel)