World Bulletin / News Desk
Families of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 urged authorities Monday not to cease their search efforts, as officials from Malaysia, China and Australia met to decide on the direction of future operations.
Malaysia is hosting a two-day tripartite meeting in administrative capital Putrajaya to discuss the next course of action to be taken in search operations, which have not uncovered any major clue on the aircraft's whereabouts since it vanished March 8, 2014.
The three countries previously indicated that they might cease search operations, after deliberating findings in the current 120,000 square kilometer (46,332 square mile) designated search area in the Indian Ocean.
In response to the meeting, an international network of the passengers’ families called Voice370 expressed their growing distress over the possibility of a termination of the search.
In a statement Monday, they stressed that authorities should not cease search efforts but instead extend and expand them, as they said various independent experts and analysts had suggested to do so.
"The families of passengers on board MH370 note with growing distress that the search for the plane in the extended search area off the West Coast of Australia has yielded nothing till date and there is very little of the search area left to be covered,” it said.
"What is even more alarming to the families is the often repeated phrase that if no new credible evidence is found, the search will be terminated once the 120,000 square kilometers designated search area is fully searched," it added.
To date, an area of more than 105,000 square kilometers has been scoured during the most intensive search in commercial aviation history.
Voice370 said independent experts have raised questions about the preciseness of the official analysis and its follow-up action on new information, such as recent debris as well as the discovery of flotsam in dispersed locations.
"These have not been responded to satisfactorily or contested with more substantive data or analysis. We wish to express our concern that till date, we have not heard of any organised plan to systematically comb these far dispersed localities,” the statement underlined.
"This lack of initiative begs the question — how sincere are the relevant parties about solving this mystery?"
The group said that any decision to end the search would be a "cruel response to a desperate human crisis", allegedly sending a message that financial considerations trump the flyer’s safety and security.
To-date, Malaysian and Australia authorities have confirmed that at least five pieces of debris found in Mozambique and South Africa and islands off eastern Africa.
Earlier this month, Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Center said the expected completion of the search could be delayed until August after rough weather conditions resulted in operations in the southern Indian Ocean being suspended for four weeks.
The search and rescue mission -- which began immediately after the flight went missing with 239 passengers and crew members on board -- involved some 160 assets inclusive of 65 aircraft and 95 vessels as well as experts from 25 countries.
After 10 months of intensive undersea search for the vanished flight, on Jan. 29, 2015 Malaysia declared that MH370 was lost in an accident, killing all passengers.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Haziran 2016, 19:06