Putrajaya: MH370 safety investigator-in-charge Kok Soo Chon shows the investigation report booklet to the media after a news conference on Monday.—Reuters
Putrajaya: MH370 safety investigator-in-charge Kok Soo Chon shows the investigation report booklet to the media after a news conference on Monday.—Reuters

PUTRAJAYA: Investi­ga­tors said on Monday they still do not know why Malaysia’s Flight MH370 vanished four years ago in aviation’s greatest mystery, sparking anger and disappointment among relatives of those on board.

In a long-awaited report the official investigation team pointed to failings by air traffic controllers, said the course of the Malaysia Airlines plane was changed manually, and refused to rule out that someone other than the pilots had diverted the jet.

Also read: Four years on, no sign of missing MH370 found in new scan of Indian Ocean floor

But after years of fruitless searching for the Boeing 777 that disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people aboard, the report offered nothing concrete to grieving relatives of passengers and crew hoping for some sort of closure.

“The team is unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of MH370,” concluded the largely technical 400-page report, noting that investigators were hindered in their probe as neither the plane’s wreckage nor its black boxes had been found.

Investigators said the plane was airworthy and the pilots were in a fit state to fly, and dismissed the theory that the plane had been taken over remotely to foil a hijacking.

Relatives who were brie­fed at the transport ministry in the administrative capital Putrajaya before the report’s public release expressed anger that there was nothing new in the document, with some storming out of the briefing as frustration boiled over.

“It is so disappointing,” said Intan Maizura Oth­man, whose husband was a steward on MH370, which had been flying from Kuala Lum­pur to Beijing carrying mos­tly mainland Chinese passengers when it vanished. “I am frustrated. There is nothing new in the report.” She said the meeting between relatives and officials descended into a “shouting match” as anger mounted.

G. Subramaniam, who lost a son on the flight, added that “unsatisfactory responses left many angry”.

The disappearance of MH370 triggered the largest hunt in aviation history. But no sign of it was found in a 120,000-square kilometre Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led hunt was suspended in January last year.

US exploration firm Oce­an Infinity resumed the sea­rch in a different location at the start of this year on a “no find, no fee” basis, using high-tech drones to scour the seabed. But that search was also called off after failing to find anything.

Only three confirmed fra­­gments of MH370 have been found, all of them on western Indian Ocean sho­res, including a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.

Malaysia’s new government, which took power in May, has said the hunt cou­ld be resumed but only if new evidence comes to light.

Transport Minister Anth­ony Loke insisted on Mon­day that “the aspiration to locate MH370 has not been abandoned and we remain ever-hopeful that we will be able to find the answers we seek when the credible evidence be­­comes available”.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2018

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