17 Jan 2017

Search for MH370 officially called off

8:00 pm on 17 January 2017

The deep-sea search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has ended, without any further trace of the plane that vanished in 2014 with 239 people on board, the three countries involved in the search say.

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Malaysia, Australia and China, among other countries including New Zealand, have been looking for the missing plane for nearly three years. Photo: AFP

The location of the plane has become one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries since it disappeared en route to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The passengers on board, most of whom were from China, included Perth-based New Zealander Paul Weeks.

"Despite every effort using the best science available ... the search has not been able to locate the aircraft," Malaysian, Australian and Chinese authorities said in a statement.

The last search vessel left the area on Tuesday, the three countries said, after scouring the 120,000 sq km area of the Indian Ocean sea floor that has been the focus of the almost-three-year search.

Malaysia, Australia and China agreed in July to suspend the search if the plane was not found or new evidence uncovered once that area had been checked.

Australia last month dismissed an investigators' recommendation to shift the search further north, saying that no new evidence had emerged to support that.

A next-of-kin support group called Voice 370 said in a statement investigators could not leave the matter unsolved.

A large piece of debris found in Tanzania recently which has been confirmed as a part of a wing flap from missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet MH370.

This large piece of debris, found in Tanzania, was confirmed as part of a wing flap from MH370. Photo: Australian Transport Safety Board

"In our view, extending the search to the new area defined by the experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety," Voice 370 said.

The only confirmed traces of the plane have been three pieces of debris found washed up on the island country Mauritius, the French island Reunion and an island off the coast of Tanzania.

As many as 30 other pieces of wreckage found there and also at beaches in Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa are suspected to have come from the plane.

- Reuters / RNZ

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