Family members of the Australians on board the fatal Malaysian Airlines’ flight MH370 gathered at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane to mark the third anniversary of the tragedy on 8 March 2017. The private ceremony was attended by around 100 people including Darren Chester, Australian Minister for infrastructure and transport and Angus Houston, former Australian defence chief who coordinated the initial search efforts for the missing flight and diplomats from Malaysia, China and New Zealand.
Speaking at the ceremony, Darren Chester stated that while the searchers have been unsuccessful in solving the mystery surrounding the missing plane, they tried their best and still hope remains for a possible breakthrough in the future that would result in the plane being found.
Several relatives of the 239 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 777 live in or near Brisbane. Chester announced the government’s decision of erecting a permanent memorial in remembrance of the lost passengers and crew in the west coast city of Perth, which had been a base for the Indian Ocean air and sea search parties.
Chester noted right before the service that he could understand the frustration many family members of the victims felt about the fact that there was no longer any search mission for the plane. The active search for the crash site of the plane was officially called off by Australia, Malaysia and China in January 2017, after the search crew failed to find any further lead or trace.
The advanced search mission was suspended after sweeping almost 120000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia. The airliner is suspected to have flown very far off course for some unknown reason during its journey from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing in China on 8 March 2017. There are suggestions by some relatives of raising funds to continue the search of the ocean floor privately.
The MH370 plane was carrying 239 people including 12 crew members. It had completed 53460 flight hours and 7525 take-offs and landings. The pilot had a record of more than 18000 flying hours and had been employed with the airlines since 1981. The air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane almost an hour after its take off.
The flight MH370 was last detected on the military radar near the island of Pulau Perak at the northern end of the Strait of Malacca. Though no distress signal or message was sent from the plane, reports suggest that it attempted to turn back from its scheduled path. The weather conditions were also reported to be good.
The plane’s disappearance launched one of the largest-ever international search efforts in the area over the South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean. Around 120000 sq km area of the seabed has been searched using advanced underwater drones and sonar equipment. A flaperon from the plane was discovered on Reunion Island more than 3700 km away from the main search site in July 2015.