CREW aboard the vessel searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are optimistic that they will find wreckage of the plane, with Malaysian officials confirming on Thursday that a full investigation report will be released in June after the latest search is completed.
Flight MH370, carrying 239 people onboard, became one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries when it disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
Malaysia agreed in January to pay US firm Ocean Infinity up to $70 million if it found the plane during an offshore search effort that is underway and expected to end in June. The company said it would not accept a fee if it cannot locate the wreckage.
“It’s been more than 30 days now, but the search team remains optimistic. We are giving our utmost to find the plane,” two hydrographers from the Malaysian navy, who are abroad the Seabed Constructor search vessel told local newspaper the New Straits Times.
“We have gone through a number of rough days… days which we would not have been able to survive without having perseverance and a strong will,” the naval officers said.
The search is reportedly more than halfway through – with only 9000 out of the 25,000 square kilometre search zone designated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau remaining.
The decision to engage Ocean Infinity came after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200-million ($159.38 million) search across a 120,000 square-kilometre area in the Indian Ocean last year, despite investigators calling for the target area to be extended 25,000 square kilometres north.
The release of a full report into MH370’s disappearance has been suspended pending the outcome of the new search, as any new evidence uncovered is “likely to significantly affect the investigation”, Malaysian investigators said in their annual interim statement sent to families of those aboard the plane.
“In the event that the aircraft is found, the team will conduct further investigation,” it said. “If the aircraft is not found and a decision is made to discontinue the search, the team will resume the completion of the report and release it in the months ahead.”
Several pieces of aircraft debris have been found on Indian Ocean islands and along Africa’s east coast, and efforts to retrieve more are ongoing.
Three wing fragments were confirmed as coming from the missing plane, while other pieces, including some cabin interior items, were determined to be “almost certain” from MH370, the investigators said.
Malaysian officials are working with Australian authorities on plans to recover the Boeing Co 777’s wreckage or its flight recorders, in the event the aircraft is found.
Prime Minister Najib Razak reiterated the country’s commitment to finding the plane.
The Seabed Constructor vessel has covered 16,000 square kilometres (6178 square miles) so far but has yet to identify any significant findings, Ocean Infinity said in its weekly search update on Tuesday.
Additional reporting from Reuters.