Two years ago Tuesday, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and its passengers vanished without a trace.
Authorities have declared all 239 passengers as dead, but some families of MH370’s victims don’t believe it. Zhang Meiling, whose daughter was aboard the flight, spoke to CNN on the anniversary of MH370’s disappearance. She thinks her child is still out there, alive.
“I only believe this: A mother and daughter’s hearts are connected. If something had happened to my daughter, I really would’ve felt it. I think they’re safe.”
Dai Shugin believes the same. She lost her sister and four family members on March 8, 2014, on MH370. She still holds out hope that they’re alive and have enough to eat and wear.
“Our purpose here today is to pray for them,” she said. “If they are still alive, we wish them safe no matter where they are.”
The families of MH370’s missing passengers may soon have an answer. Australian officials have been leading the search for MH370 and the people on board at the request of the Malaysian government, ABC News reported. The official leading that search said it’s “very likely” MH370 will be found in the next four months, Australian Transport Safety Bureau head Martin Dolan told USA Today.
“We’ve covered nearly 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.”
About 30,000 square miles of the primary search zone has been combed for MH370’s fuselage, with no success. But only 10,000 square miles remain, an area about the size of Maryland, and he believes MH370 is there.
If it isn’t found, the search for MH370 will end this summer because funding will run out. Families want it to continue, and authorities in Malaysia, Australia, and China plan to meet to discuss how the hunt for MH370 will continue.
The search area represents the world’s most inhospitable terrain, with depths up to nearly four miles “across underwater mountain ranges, and in the world’s fastest currents — the search team have been working tirelessly,” Prime Minister Najib Razak told the BBC.
“We remain committed to doing everything within our means to solving what is an agonizing mystery for the loved ones of those who were lost. On this most difficult of days, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who will never be forgotten.”
Meanwhile, debris from MH370 has been washing up on distant shorelines. The only confirmed piece of MH370 was found on a French island near Madagascar last summer — a barnacle-encrusted flaperon. The discovery in this part of the Indian Ocean matches up with the suspected search area for MH370.
Six months later, an American tourist spotted a piece of a Boeing 777 on a sandbar in Mozambique. MH370 is the only known missing Boeing 777, and authorities are working to confirm that it’s part of that plane. The piece came from the horizontal part of the aircraft’s tail.
And another potential piece of MH370 was more recently discovered on the island of Reunion, also located in the Indian Ocean. The authorities are taking a look at the debris.
The families of MH370’s missing passengers, who gathered Tuesday on the anniversary of the flight’s disappearance to pray at a Buddhist temple in Beijing, can only hope that, two years later, MH370 will finally be discovered.
MH370 left Kuala Lumpur International Airport, bound for Beijing, shortly after midnight. About 26 minutes later, an automated data transmission was sent out — MH370’s last — and then the system was shut off. At 1:19 a.m., someone offered this final, mysterious message: “Goodnight, Malaysian three seven zero.” Then MH370’s transponder, which communicates location information, was switched off. These two actions tell investigators that someone was still alive in the cockpit of MH370 at the time.
Four minutes after the transponder was shut off, radar data shows the plane leave its planned route, fly back over Malaysia, then fly north along the Malacca Strait. Satellite data shows MH370 kept flying another six hours until MH370 finally disappeared over the Indian Ocean.
Now, families of MH370’s missing passengers are suing en masse. On Monday, relatives of 12 MH370 passengers filed suit in Beijing. Families of 32 others, mostly Chinese, filed separate suits in Malaysia. In the U.S., relatives of 43 MH370 passengers have sued in New York.
A number of similar cases related to MH370 are underway worldwide.
[Photo by Mark Schiefelbein/AP]