The more than two year search for the downed MH370 plane has been suspended yet again, as Australian authorities turned up nothing from their 120,000 sq. km. underwater search.

SEARCH FOR MALAYSIA FLIGHT 370 SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY

The Malaysia, China and Australia transport ministers signed off on the MH370 Tripartite Joint Communiqué, and was made public at 2pm today, Malaysia time.

“Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean,” it read. “Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modeling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft. The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness.”

The announcement comes just six weeks prior to the plane’s three-year disappearance anniversary, as it disappeared March 8, 2014 after it took off from Kuala Lumpar en route to Beijing. It is thought to have gone down in the Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board.

A meeting of the three countries involved in the search last July, the transport ministers agreed that the likelihood of finding the aircraft was low, and that if the agreed upon 120,000 sq. km. area was searched without success, that the effort would “not end, but be suspended” indefinitely. Today’s announcement is consistent with their decision in July.

The search operation is believed to have cost around 180 million Australian dollars, paid by Australia and Malaysia, with China chipping in A$20M. Just after the crash, authorities suggested the wreckage was close to being found, as they heard a series of pings from a black box. The initial search, however, yielded no results.

Multiple pieces of debris have been found off the eastern coast of Africa, including in June an un-deployed wing flap that was confirmed to be from a Boeing 777. This led researchers to believe the aircraft was not manned by a pilot at the time of the crash, otherwise the flap would have been deployed to slow the plane down on its descent. Some experts believe the plane was deliberately crashed as part of a pilot’s suicide plan.

At this time, officials are getting comfortable with the fact that they may never know the cause of the crash, or the whereabouts of the wreckage.

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