KL promises to release report on missing MH370 as search ends

US seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity's multi-purpose offshore vessel Seabed Constructor had been scouring the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft since January, covering more than 112,000 sq km of ocean floor in a li
US seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity's multi-purpose offshore vessel Seabed Constructor had been scouring the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft since January, covering more than 112,000 sq km of ocean floor in a little over three months. The firm confirmed that its search "is shortly coming to an end", but did not give a precise date.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's new government has promised to release a long-awaited report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 as a privately funded underwater search effort comes to a close without finding the plane.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, becoming one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

The government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last week that US seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity, which had scoured the southern Indian Ocean for the aircraft since January, would end its hunt yesterday.

In a statement yesterday, Ocean Infinity confirmed that its search "is shortly coming to an end", but did not give a precise date.

The firm's chief executive Oliver Plunkett said its team had searched more than 112,000 sq km of ocean floor in a little over three months.

"Part of our motivation for renewing the search was to try to provide some answers to those affected. It is therefore with a heavy heart that we end our current search without having achieved that aim...

"While clearly the outcome so far is extremely disappointing, as a company, we are truly proud of what we have achieved, both in terms of the quality of data we've produced and the speed with which we covered such a vast area," he said.

The previous Najib Razak administration had promised up to US$70 million (S$94 million) to the Texas-based firm if it found the plane within 90 days.

Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke said a full report into MH370's disappearance would be published in the near future, but did not give a date.

"I can assure you the final report will be published with full disclosure. There will not be any edits or anything hidden," he told reporters late on Monday.

Asked if the report would refer to controversial elements of the case, he said: "To me, whatever elements, we will just publish it."

Last year, the Australian authorities said MH370's captain had flown a route on his home simulator six weeks before the disappearance that was "initially similar" to the course actually taken by the aircraft.

Mr Peter Foley, who led the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's search efforts, told an Australian Senate hearing that "control inputs" had been made to fly the airliner off course, but he could not say if one of the pilots had done so.

Malaysian investigators said in 2015 that they had found nothing suspicious in the financial, medical or personal histories of the pilots or crew.

The decision to engage Ocean Infinity came after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200 million (S$203 million) search across a 120,000 sq km expanse of the Indian Ocean last year.

Voice 370, a group representing the relatives of those on the flight, has pressed the new government to review all matters linked to MH370, including "any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'KL promises to release report on missing MH370 as search ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe