MH370: Gone Two Years and Still Lost to Search Teams and Loved Ones
Photo courtesy of Malaysia Airlines
It was exactly two years ago that a commercial jet carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew vanished without a trace, along its route between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Beijing, China. The Boeing 777-200ER (built in May, 2002), flown by Malaysia Airlines, lost radar contact less than an hour after taking off.
Only one piece of the plane has ever been located. In July 2015, a part of the wing known as a flaperon was found on Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean. Two other suspected pieces of debris, found on Reunion and the African nation of Mozambique have yet to be officially identified as being part of MH370.
READ MORE: US Team To Join Final Leg of MH370 Search
On Monday, March 7, families of the missing passengers filed lawsuits less than 24 hours before the two-year time limit ran out to do so. Relatives of 12 passengers filed suit in Beijing, while family members of 32 victims filed suit in Kuala Lumpur. A lawyer for the Beijing case told the BBC they were seeking a range of damages, but their primary goal remained to discover the cause of this calamity, along with who was at fault.
The Beijing case named Malaysia Airlines, Boeing and the engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce as defendants. Up to $10.7 Million USD is being sought as compensation in this case. In air disaster lawsuits, it is common for the airline, airframe manufacturer and engine manufacturer to each be named. Then it is left for the lawyers to present their cases in court — but the outcome could take up to two years. A sister of one of the passengers told Reuters, “Today we came to demand our people back. We come every day. We demand to have our people back everyday, we want our relatives.”
Details from the Malaysia case including the 32 victims were not available. Meanwhile, the search for the plane continues. That search is being lead by Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau. Over $130 Million U.S. dollars have been spent in the quest to find the plane’s wreckage within an area of the Indian Ocean. During the Southern Hemisphere winter, efforts have been halted because of heavy seas. To date, four ships have searched over 46,000 square miles of sea floor, to no avail. That’s larger than the state of Ohio. However, the search team remains optimistic.
Martin Dolan, the man in charge of the search effort told The Guardian that it is “very likely” the plane will be found by July. “It’s as likely on the last day (of the search) as on the first that the aircraft would be there. We’ve covered nearly three-quarters of the search area, and since we haven’t found the aircraft in those areas, that increases the likelihood that it’s in the areas we haven’t looked at yet,” said Dolan.
The sea floor of the search area is a foreboding obstacle. It takes six days just to sail there from the nearest shore, and has never been mapped before this point. The submersible vehicles covering the search area are doing so at a rate equivalent to a person’s walking pace.
Investigators have said the search window will close for perhaps the final time once winter hits the Southern Hemisphere this year. Theories continue to abound, and it remains to be seen whether this modern-day Titanic story will even be solved.
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