Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370: Mystery of the missing plane ‘may never be solved,’ police warn

Officers have made little progress with their investigation despite scrutinising the provenance of every piece of cargo


With as little as two days left in which to recover the black box of Flight MH370, Malaysian police have warned that the mystery of the plane's disappearance nearly four weeks ago may never be solved.

The country's Prime Minister, Najib Razak, who visited the headquarters of the multinational search in Perth today, promised relatives of the 239 passengers and crew that “we will not rest until answers are… found”. However, batteries in the locator beacons of flight recorders only last about 30 days, which means MH370's will die next Monday, or even this weekend.

The hunt for wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 continued in the Indian Ocean, with two British Royal Navy vessels joining seven other ships and eight planes. But since the search switched to the remote waters a fortnight ago, not a single piece of debris linked to the doomed flight has been found, despite exhaustive efforts.

Police, meanwhile, have yet to make any progress with their criminal investigation. Malaysia's most senior police officer, Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar, said that every possible angle was being scrutinised, including whether meals served during the Beijing-bound flight had been poisoned.

Officers were also scrutinising the provenance of every piece of cargo - even a consignment of mangosteens, an Asian tropical fruit. “We had to find out where the mangosteens came from,” said Mr Khalid. “We tracked down who plucked the fruits, who packed them and shipped them out, who put them on the plane. Imagine how many people we must interview, and that was just the mangosteens.”

The enormity of the task facing search teams was acknowledged by Mr Najib, who described it as “a gargantuan challenge”, and by the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who called the search “the most difficult in human history”.

While Mr Abbott, who hosted his Malaysian counterpart in Perth, said that Australia was “throwing everything we have at it”, he also warned that “we cannot be certain of ultimate success” - a contrast with previous statements in which he pledged that if there was wreckage to be found, Australia would find it.

The search force was bolstered by Britain's HMS Echo and HMS Tireless, the latter a nuclear-powered submarine with advanced underwater search capability. The hope is that it may detect signals emitted by MH370's black box - the flight data and cockpit voice recorders which hold the key to why the plane diverted radically off course soon after leaving Kuala Lumpur on 8 March.

Also on its way to the search zone, which was refined today to about 1,680 kilometres north-west of Perth, is the Ocean Shield, an Australian warship carrying a US-supplied black box detector. However, experts have warned that the device will be of little use unless the crash site can be identified much more precisely.

The failure to find any debris - and the imminent black box deadline - are exacerbating the anguish of relatives. “I know that until we find the plane, many families cannot start to grieve,” Mr Najib said. “I cannot imagine what they must be going through. But I can promise them that we will not give up.”

Selamat Omar, whose 29-year-old son, Mohammed Khairul Amri Selamat, was on the plane, told Australia's ABC radio that he was still hoping he was alive. “After such a long time, they could not find any object [wreckage], even with the expertise of the helpers,” he said. “We are sure that there is hope of life.”

Mr Khalid, though, warned that “at the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause… the reason for this incident”.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album