Malaysia open to proposals to resume MH370 hunt

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Malaysia open to proposals to resume MH370 hunt

The plane vanished March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.


Malaysian Minister of Transport Anthony Loke plants a tree with family members of passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (Vincent Thian/AP)
Malaysian Minister of Transport Anthony Loke plants a tree with family members of passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (Vincent Thian/AP)

Malaysia is open to proposals to resume the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, as families of passengers marked the fifth anniversary of the jet’s disappearance.

The US firm Ocean Infinity mounted a “no cure, no fee” search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean in January 2018 that ended in May without any clues.

But Ocean Infinity’s CEO, Oliver Plunkett, said in a video shown at the public remembrance event on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur that the company hopes to resume the search with better technology obtained in the past year.

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A family member of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 holds a candle during the Day of Remembrance (Annice Lyn/AP)

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the government “is waiting for specific proposals, in particular from Ocean Infinity”, to resume the search for the plane, which vanished March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.

The Ocean Infinity mission came a year after an official search by Malaysia, Australia and China ended in futility.

Mr Plunkett said his company has better technology now after successfully locating an Argentinian submarine in November, a year after it went missing.

He said the firm is still reviewing all possible data on Flight 370 and thinking about how it can revive its failed mission.

“We haven’t given up hope. … We hope we can continue the search in due course,” Mr Plunkett said.

Mr Loke said it’s been frustrating that the two searches failed to produce any clues and that he “welcomes credible leads and also concrete proposals to resume the search”.

He brushed off suggestions of offering rewards to find the plane, but said the government is willing to discuss proposals from any companies prepared to resume the search.

“There must be a proposal from a specific company … we cannot just be out there without credible leads. That’s the most practical thing to do,” Mr Loke said.

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Debris from the missing plane (Vincent Thian/AP)

The plane vanished while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Confirmed debris that washed ashore in the western Indian Ocean helped narrow the search area where Ocean Infinity focused, but it failed to uncover any evidence.

A Malaysian-led independent investigation report released last July showed lapses in the government’s response and raised the possibility of “intervention by a third party”.

Investigators, however, said the cause of the disappearance cannot be determined until the wreckage and the plane’s black boxes are found.

The report reiterated Malaysia’s assertion that the plane was deliberately diverted and flown for over seven hours after severing communications.

But it said there was no evidence of abnormal behaviour or stress in the two pilots that could lead them to hijack the plane.

All the other passengers were also cleared by police and had no pilot training.

Voice 370, a support group for next-of-kin, expressed hope that the new government that won a general election in May last year will do more to encourage search missions and seek new clues.

The group’s spokeswoman, Grace Nathan, urged the government to set aside up to 70 million US dollars — the amount it agreed to pay Ocean Infinity had it found the plane — to encourage exploration companies to take on “no cure, no fee” missions so that Flight 370’s passengers will not have died in vain.

Press Association

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