A support center established to provide information and comfort to families of missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 passengers will close Tuesday in Beijing, as almost 14 months later, no sign of the palne has been found.
Opened by the governments of China and Malaysia, along with Malaysia Airlines, the Shunyi center was a clearinghouse for those related to the 152 Chinese passengers. With few developments in the search, which remains focused in the southern Indian Ocean west of western Australia, the governments and airline will use other methods to notify families should there be updates.
An unopened Malaysia Airlines moist towelette found on a beach in Western Australia in March, 200 kilometers northwest of Perth, could not be conclusively linked to the missing plane. "It is unlikely, however, that such a common item with no unique identifier could be conclusively linked with MH370," the Joint Agency Coordination Center, which is in charge of the search, told the Xinhua News Agency.
In January, Malaysian Airlines declared that the plane’s disappearance was an "accident" and presumed that all passengers and crew are dead. The declaration allowed families of the missing who wished to do so to begin conducting funerals for their loved ones, and filing life insurance and compensation claims.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Almost 14 months after the plane vanished with 239 people on board, searchers have not found a single piece of wreckage, a single drop of oil, or a solitary life jacket.
One hundred fifty-two of the passengers were Chinese, most of them local. A number of Beijing-based expatriates were also aboard, including most members of a French family, a couple traveling without their children, and a businessman on his final flight to Beijing before completing a move Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian and Australian officials have been searching for wreckage in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1,800 kilometers west of Perth, Australia. Satellite pings indicate the plane may have taken this course and continued until it ran out of fuel or was forced down.
The plane’s disappearance has become the greatest aviation mystery of the 21st century, and will remain so until its wreckage is discovered and its deviation from the flight plan explained.
Photo: New York Daily News
Full Coverage: The Disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on April 28, 2015.