search for MH370
Searches have failed to find any trace of missing Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH370. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Ten years on, Australia reflects on MH370 disappearance

March 8, 2024

A decade on from the disappearance of flight MH370, families and loved ones of its 239 passengers are no closer to finding answers.

The Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared from radar on March 8, 2014 on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. 

Six Australian citizens and one New Zealand resident of Western Australia were on board.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong
 Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong has acknowledged the heartache of families of MH370 victims. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

Australia’s sympathies remained with the families and loved ones, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said.

“We recognise their ongoing heartache and grief without the answers they seek,” she said.

“While the searches have not been successful and families continue to endure such heartache, the effort to find MH370 demonstrates the close co-operation between our countries through difficult times.

“The Australian government is supportive of all practical efforts to find MH370.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the anniversary was a chance to remember the lives of the passengers on board.

While it had been 10 years since the disappearance, he was confident there would be answers as to the fate of the plane.

“It is not a question of if the mystery will be solved – rather, it is a question of when,” he said.

“I commend those oceanographers and marine robotics companies who are eager to continue the search, working hand-in-glove with governments.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he was inclined to reopen the investigation if new evidence came to light.

“If we have a compelling case to reopen the investigation, we will,” he said.

Families gathered in Malaysia on Sunday and called for another search, with the plane believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

American company Ocean Infinity has offered to search for the wreckage but the Malaysian government has requested new evidence before it signs off on another operation.

graphic of the area being searched for missing flight MH370
 Six Australians were on board MH370 when the flight disappeared over the southern Indian Ocean. Image by Greg Wood/AAP PHOTOS 

The company’s 2018 search came up empty. 

The first search was co-ordinated by Australia in 2014 and involved the Malaysian and Chinese governments before it was officially called off in early 2017.

The government was right to ask for more evidence before it searched again and gave false hope to families, said maritime security expert Jennifer Parker, who oversaw the operation. 

Finding a plane at such depths was a needle in a haystack operation and the actual depths of the southern Indian Ocean remained unknown because they were uncharted, she said. 

But advanced technology could help a fresh search, oceanography expert Chari Pattiaratchi said.

If one piece was found it was likely the whole wreckage would be too, he said, adding the cold and calm nature of the bottom of the ocean meant parts would still be preserved.