Missing MH370: Malaysia willing to resume search if companies come forward with new proposals

Malaysia’s transport minister on Sunday said the country may consider restarting the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 if interested companies come forward with proposals or credible leads, Reuters reported.

The aircraft vanished on March 8, 2014, when it was on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board. The aircraft is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles away from its scheduled route. Malaysia, China and Australia had called off a two-year underwater search in January 2017, after finding no trace of the aircraft. In May last year, Malaysia called off a second search funded by private American firm Ocean Infinity.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Malaysia was ready to sign a “no-cure, no fee” agreement with firms searching for the aircraft. It means the companies would only be paid if they located the aircraft. The Malaysian government had offered Ocean Infinity up to $70 million, around Rs 495 crore, under such an agreement for its search last year.

“If there are any credible leads or specific proposals, we are more than willing to look at them and we are prepared to discuss with them the new proposals,” Loke said at an event in Kuala Lumpur marking the fifth year of MH370’s disappearance.

Loke said Ocean Infinity was yet to put forward a new proposal after having expressed interest in another search on the back of new technology developed last year. “If they can convince us that the new technology can be more efficient in terms of the search, then we are more than willing to restart,” he said.

Authorities on Sunday also displayed two fragments, believed to be from the plane’s debris and washed up along the Indian Ocean coastline, at the event. It was for the first time that such pieces have gone on public display. The parts are in the custody of the Malaysian government and include a wing fragment found in Tanzania measuring about 4.27 m, the largest piece of debris found so far.