After nearly three years since its disappearance, the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been indefinitely suspended. Family members of those lost in the crash, which is suspected to have occurred somewhere in the Indian Ocean, were notified of the halted search effort via an emailed statement on Tuesday. The decision was made on behalf of the transport authorities of Malaysia, China, and Australia, the countries responsible for conducting and funding the search. 

“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,” reads the statement. 

MH370 disappeared shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, as it was en route to Beijing Capital International Airport. There were 12 crew members on board as well as 227 passengers from 15 nations. None of the 239 persons on the plane are thought to have survived. 

The statement acknowledges that the search effort was futile "despite every effort using the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field." 

The latest focus of the search was an underwater area 120,000 sq km in the southern Indian ocean. The decision to suspend the search mission was not "taken lightly nor without sadness," said the statement. Though the search has not necessarily been wholly abandoned, the statement admits, "Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft.”

Funded primarily by Australia and Malaysia, as well as AU$20m from China, the hunt for the missing plane is believed to have cost around AU$180m. 

Debris from the plane, determined to be a flaperon, was first found on the island of Réunion in July 2015. Several more pieces of debris that have been verified as coming from MH370 have since been found. A large piece of an outboard flap was discovered off the coast of Tanzania in June. 

[via The Guardian