The head of the Australian search effort for the missing Malaysia airlines plane that disappeared with 239 people on board is confident the aircraft will be found before the recovery operation comes to an end in June, as the families of those on board plead for the search to be extended.
It has been two years since Flight MH370 disappeared. The date was marked on Sunday by a commemorative ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur, where many family members of the missing released white balloons tagged with the names of the missing and the words: “Always remembered in our hearts”.
The search operation is due to end in June this year, but Martin Dolan, head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and who is in charge of the search, told the Guardian he believes it “very likely” the plane will be found before July.
“It’s as likely on the last day [of the search] as on the first that the aircraft would be there,” he told the newspaper. He said the operation has covered almost 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.”
The search across the southern Indian Ocean, which will see some 120,000 sq km scoured at the cost of around £87.7 million by its completion, has found no trace of the plane. A missing wing part, known as a flaperon, was discovered on Reunion island off Madagascar last July.
Last week the same man who found the flaperon, Johny Begue, discovered a square shaped grey piece of debris with a blue border in nearly the exact same spot. "It looks like the other one, but I don't know if it's part of the plane or not. Experts will say," he told the Associated Press.
The mysterious piece, which has been sent for examination, was discovered days after an American found a metre-long white chunk of metal suspected to be a part of the missing plane in Mozambique, which also has a coastline on the Indian Ocean.
Families of those on board the plane are calling for the search operation to be extended past June.
Jacquita Gomes, who lost her husband, inflight supervisor Patrick Gomes, said the families are fighting for the search to continue "because our loved ones are not home yet, so how can we say it's the end?"
Additional reporting by agencies
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