As the underwater search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared from radars in March 2014, comes to an end next week, the Australian government’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) released a report Wednesday, stating that five missions have been carried out in the past week.
Fugro Equator, a survey vehicle owned and operated by a Dutch company, has been conducting underwater search operations using the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle in its final round of searches. The vessel is also collecting sonar data in areas that haven’t previously been completed, a statement by the JACC said.
Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board as it made its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Authorities have previously said the plane may have crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean. Almost $145 million has been spent on search operations, yielding no clues about what happened to the missing plane.
Several debris pieces have been found over the past few months and of these six have been considered certain or highly likely to have come from Flight MH370. Families of those who were on board the plane have continuously urged authorities to pursue the search further, blaming officials for not looking at debris pieces found in Madagascar, Tanzania and other nearby islands with more seriousness.
The report by JACC said that it was decided at a meeting of ministers from Malaysia, Australia and the People’s Republic of China — on July 22, 2016 — that if the aircraft could not be located in the current search area, and if there was no new credible evidence for the search to be shifted to another location, it would be suspended once the current area is searched.
However, officials maintain that this does not mean a final termination of search operations and that if credible information regarding the specific location of the aircraft emerges, the next steps to be taken will be given due consideration.