Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference after a cabinet meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Mahathir said Malaysia regrets having to end the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and will consider resuming the hunt if any new information emerges. A second search by a private U.S. company ended Tuesday with no signs of the plane after scouring the Indian Ocean seabed for more than three months. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)

Mahathir says Malaysia regrets having to end hunt for plane

May 30, 2018 - 3:15 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday that Malaysia regretted having to end the search for Flight 370 and will consider resuming the hunt if any new information emerges.

The final search effort focused on the seabed in the distant Indian Ocean ended Tuesday after more than three months. Malaysia had signed a "no cure, no fee" deal with U.S. technology company Ocean Infinity to resume the hunt in January, a year after the official search by Australia, Malaysia and China was called off.

Mahathir said Malaysia has come to a stage "where we cannot keep on searching for something we really cannot find.

"If anybody has any information, we will consider resuming the search but at the moment we have to put a stop to the search," he told a news conference. "We regret very much and we understand the feelings of the relatives but we cannot keep on searching for this 370 forever."

The Malaysia Airlines plane vanished with 239 people on board on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Confirmed debris that washed ashore in the western Indian Ocean helped narrow the search area where Ocean Infinity focused.

The company said Tuesday the search covered more than 112,000 square kilometers (43,000 square miles) of ocean floor — an area more than four times larger than the zone targeted by experts as the most likely crash site — but failed to uncover any evidence in one of the world's biggest aviation mystery.

Ocean Infinity stood to be paid $70 million if it had found the wreckage or black boxes.

Voice370, a support group for next-of-kin, has said Malaysia's new government had given the families no information about what would happen next. Its spokesman Grace Nathan has urged Malaysia not to give up, saying the fact that the current search failed to find any clue meant there was more reason to reinvestigate and re-evaluate the case.

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