PETALING JAYA: The search for the missing MH370 plane has been suspended with the last vessel having left the underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean.
This was announced in an MH370 Tripartite Joint Communiqué on Tuesday by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and People's Republic of China Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng.
The statement issued by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) stated the aircraft had not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean.
"Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft.
"Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended," said the JACC.
"The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness. It is consistent with decisions made by our three countries in the July 2016 Ministerial Tripartite meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia."
Speaking to reporters after launching the national-level Road Safety Campaign in conjunction with the 2017 Chinese New Year Celebrations at Sunway Pyramid, Liow said the decision to suspend the search was taken last week.
"We decided last week to suspend the search of MH370 if the plane was not found in the 120,000 square kilometre area.
"The search is at the final leg and will be suspended officially by today when the search vessel leaves the area," he said.
The tripartite statement added that while combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date, no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft.
"We have been overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication shown by the hundreds of people involved in the search, which has been an unprecedented challenge.
"We would like to reiterate our utmost appreciation to the many nations that have provided expertise and assistance since the early days of this unfortunate tragedy.
"Today's announcement is significant for our three countries, but more importantly for the family and friends of those on board the aircraft.
"We again take this opportunity to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives and acknowledge the enormous loss felt by their loved ones.
"We remain hopeful that new information will come to light and that at some point in the future the aircraft will be located," the statement said.