Malaysia withdraws MH370 reward offer as search ends
Perth, Jan 23 (IANS) The Malaysian Government has withdrawn its offer of a reward to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 after the search for the missing aircraft officially ended on Monday.
The three-year underwater search for the Boeing 777 that disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people on board ended with the search vessel Fugro Equator docking in Fremantle, Western Australia, earlier in the day.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the offer of a reward was not a government proposal, rather a personal decision by the country’s Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.
“The government has not made any decision … it was the Deputy Minister’s personal view, not the government’s,” said Lai.
Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester and Liow went aboard the Fugro Equator to thank the crew.
“This has been an extraordinary search effort, it’s been in some of the most inhospitable oceans in the world,” Chester said.
“The search for MH370 has been at the very cutting edge of technology and scientific expertise, but also has been quite a heroic human endeavour.”
The search covered an area of 120,000 sq.km. and while some experts believe the plane is likely to be just outside the searched area, the investigation will now take a different turn, the ABC said.
“Work will continue in relation to further analysis of data and if any more debris comes forward, we’ll work with our Malaysian counterparts in assessing debris of interest and work is also going on in terms of further analysis of satellite imagery,” Chester said.
He thanked the crew, the Australian and Chinese governments for the help in the $200 million search effort, of which Australia contributed about $60 million.
Liow and Chester are expected to later meet the families of the victims, who began a campaign Sunday to urge Malaysian and Australian authorities to resume search operations.