Malaysia will not conduct an official memorial service on the second anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai reportedly said Monday. The news comes as the search area for the missing Boeing 777-200 narrows before efforts are called off in June.
"However, we will hold a ceremony in Parliament on March 8,” Liow said Monday, adding that a short speech will be given out in memory of the tragedy, according to the Star. Liow also reportedly said that the decision about whether to continue with the search for the plane — in case it is not found by June — would have to be made in a tripartite meeting among Malaysia, China and Australia.
The multimillion-dollar search for Flight MH370 has stretched for nearly two years with no concrete clues about the plane's whereabouts. So far, the first and only piece of physical evidence to be recovered from the plane is a flaperon that washed ashore on France's Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean — about 2,300 miles away from the current search area — in July 2015.
Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau that is leading the search for Flight MH370, said Monday that only an area about half the size of Tasmania is left to be scoured by search vessels, while three-quarters of the search had been completed. About 32,818 square miles has been searched so far.
"We are still confident that we will find the aircraft between now and the completion of searching the search area of 120,000 square kilometers (about 46,000 square miles)," Dolan said, according to New Zealand’s Stuff news. "The more we search, the more likely the aircraft is to be in the area we are still looking at.”
"The only level of uncertainty is the behavior of the aircraft at the very end of its flight. The weight of the evidence indicates that there were no control inputs to the aircraft at the end of its flight and that's the basis on which we have calculated the search area,” he reportedly added.
In mid-February, Dolan told The Times that authorities may likely revive the theory that the plane was deliberately crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, in case its wreckage is not found within the search deadline.
So far, authorities reportedly believe that the plane was flying on autopilot as its pilots were either incapacitated or dead at the time of the crash. The plane may have later crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, where the current search operations are underway, after it ran out of fuel. However, in a scenario that no wreckage from the missing Flight MH370 is found, authorities might have to consider that someone was in control of the plane.
Last week, the families of those on board the missing plane urged Malaysian authorities for a 60-day extension for claims and lawsuits before the March 8 deadline.
Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, mostly Chinese nationals, while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.