08:59 GMT +314 December 2018
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    The shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion is seen on low level cloud while the aircraft searches for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia

    After Four Years, Malaysia Almost Ready to End Search for Missing Flight MH370

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    Thursday marks the fourth anniversary of the infamous disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in 2014, but the plane and its 239 passengers remain missing. The investigation continues, but is likely to conclude in the next couple months.

    The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) trying to solve the mystery of the downed plane released a statement on Thursday saying the investigation was nearing its end, with or without the plane being discovered. "Any new evidence uncovered is likely to significantly affect the investigation," they wrote.

    "In the event that the aircraft is found, the Team will conduct further investigation. If the aircraft is not found and a decision is made to discontinue the search, the Team will resume the completion of the report and release it in the months ahead," it went on to say.

    In January, Kuala Lumpur contracted American company Ocean Infinity to discover the remains of the plane or its black box within 90 days. Ocean Infinity confidently agreed to a "no find, no fee" investigation where they would only be paid for a successful discovery — but time has nearly run out for them.

    The initial search for the plane took place over 1.8 million square miles, which has steadily been narrowed down to an area of just under 10,000 square miles. Ocean Infinity had searched about two-thirds of that area as of March 4.

    While 20 pieces of debris believed to have come from MH370 have been found, the last discovery was over a year ago. JIT's report says "there is continuing activity to retrieve and examine any new debris that is discovered."

    The families of the missing passengers have grown antsy with the dwindling updates on the investigation and have called on Kuala Lumpur to better communicate with them.

    "While waiting for an outcome via Ocean Infinity, the government could and should release reports on existing information," said Grace Nathan, daughter of MH370 passenger Anne Daisy, to Channel News Asia. "For example it would be nice to see the complete cargo manifest released and a report regarding the same."

    "Secondly, it would be good to see our government come up with a plan for debris recovery, should the plane be found, instead of waiting for it to be found before anything is even initiated. It would help us feel that the government is hopeful or even optimistic that the plane will be found. It would be a sign of dedication and good faith."

    MH370 is a Boeing 777-200ER that departed from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing on March 8, 2014. About 100 minutes after takeoff, it vanished from radar over the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean.

    The largest and most expensive search in aviation history was launched for the plane, with an estimated cost around $150 million. Debris fished from the Indian Ocean has included pieces of the plane's right wing, but the plane itself, the black box and the remains of any passengers are nowhere to be found.

    Theories abound as to what took the plane down: some plausible (a fire broke out on the plane and took it down), some far-fetched (the plane was shot down by the US Air Force, which then covered it up), some conspiratorial (the usual suspect: aliens, black holes, Pitbull and Shakira).

    Perhaps the farthest-ranging consequence of MH370's disappearance was a change in global aircraft tracking standards. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2016 adopted a standard that planes over open ocean must report their position to ground control every 15 minutes instead of hourly as it was previously..

    Tags:
    debris, disappearance, investigation, MH370, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Disappearance, Ocean Infinity, Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Grace Nathan, China, Malaysia
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