Malaysia in talks over new search for flight MH370 10 years after disappearance

Flight carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers vanished from air traffic radar in 2014

Malaysia is willing to reopen an investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 if there is compelling new evidence, prime minister Anwar Ibrahim has said.

Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers, vanished from air traffic radar on March 8th, 2014. Its disappearance sparked the largest ever search operation but the fate of the plane has never been resolved and it remains one of the greatest aviation mysteries. “We have taken the position that if there is a compelling case, evidence that it needs to be reopened, we’re certainly happy to reopen,” Anwar told a press conference in Melbourne. He was speaking on the sidelines of a summit of Australia and the Asean grouping of Southeast Asian nations.

“Whatever needs to be done must be done,” he said.

On Sunday, Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke said he was in talks with the US marine robotics company Ocean Infinity to discuss a new search operation. “We are waiting for Ocean Infinity to provide suitable dates, and I will meet them anytime that they are ready to come to Malaysia,” he said.


The company says it is willing and able to return to the search, and has submitted a proposal to the Malaysian government.

Families of passengers who were on-board MH370 called for a renewed search operation as they gathered before the 10-year anniversary of its disappearance, saying answers were needed for the future of flight safety.

On Sunday hundreds of relatives and supporters gathered at a shopping centre near Kuala Lumpur to remember the missing. They lit 239 candles, one for each passenger lost on the flight.

Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of Patrick Gomes, an in-flight supervisor who was on-board, said: “Every year as we approach 8 March, all that happened on that day, the memories, come back as if it was only yesterday. We relive the agonising call from Malaysian Airlines to say the plane has gone missing.”

She recalled being glued to the television, hoping for good news that was still yet to arrive. “The only way to solve this is to find the plane. That’s why it is important to search on. Don’t let it remain a mystery,” she told an audience on Sunday.

Grace Nathan, a Malaysian lawyer whose mother, Anne Daisy, was on the flight, said: “I have gone on but I haven’t moved on.”

She described experiencing life’s milestones without her mother present. Her father did not smile in her sister’s graduation photos, she said. At her wedding, she carried her mother’s photos on a bouquet of daisies, a reference to her mother’s name. She longed for her mother as she went through two difficult pregnancies.

Passengers’ family members, including Nathan, have campaigned tirelessly for the flight’s disappearance to be resolved, travelling the world to search for debris and raise awareness. Nathan recalled travelling to Madagascar, where relatives trained residents of local fishing villages to search for parts of the plane.

“We are doing this for the future of aviation history. MH370 is not history, it’s the future of all our aviation safety every time we take to the skies,” Nathan said.

Relatives questioned the commitment of the authorities to resolving the mystery. “Is the government interested at all in the truth and finding answers?” asked KS Narendran, whose wife, Chandrika, was on-board. “Sympathy and solidarity from those in power means something only, and only if, accompanied by actions to address the sources of pain in people,” he said in a video address.

“We wish to see action ... Taking MH370 as an anomalous event and adopting a business as usual stance is to normalise a safety threat as an acceptable travel and business risk,” Mr Narendran said.

An underwater search for the plane, which was co-ordinated by Malaysia, China and Australia, ended in January 2017 after Australian authorities had spent almost three years scouring 120,000 sq km in the southern Indian Ocean without success – an operation that cost AU$180m, paid for by Australia and Malaysia.

Ocean Infinity conducted a search for the aircraft in the Indian Ocean in 2018 after it struck a “no find, no fee” arrangement with the Malaysian government. The search was unsuccessful.

The chief executive of Ocean Infinity, Oliver Plunkett, said the company also wanted to resume the search and was hopeful it would happen this year.

“We remain interested in returning to the search for MH370 and are actively engaged in trying to make this happen,” he said in a statement. “We now feel in a position to be able to return to the search for missing aircraft MH370, and have submitted a proposal to the Malaysian government.

“We hope to get back to the search soon.”

Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke, told relatives at the gathering that he was “acutely aware that the task remains incomplete.”

“I stand before you and make this promise that I will do everything possible to gain the cabinet’s approval to sign a new contract with Ocean Infinity for a search to resume as soon as possible,” he said.

Pieces of debris confirmed or thought to be from the aircraft have washed up on the shorelines of South Africa, Mauritius, Mozambique and elsewhere. None have ultimately led to the discovery of the aircraft.

The flight was carrying 152 Chinese nationals and 50 from Malaysia, as well as passengers from Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and the US. – Guardian