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Malaysian PM open to MH370 search

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (C) and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (2nd R) stand together during Anwar’s ceremonial welcome at the Australia-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in Melbourne on March 4, 2024. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said Monday he would be “happy to reopen” the search for flight MH370 if “compelling” evidence emerged, opening the door to a renewed hunt a decade after the plane disappeared.

“If there is compelling evidence that it needs to be reopened, we will certainly be happy to reopen it,” he said when asked about the matter during a visit to Melbourne.

His comments came as the families marked 10 years since the plane vanished in the Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard.

“I don’t think it’s a technical issue. It’s an issue affecting the lives of people and whatever needs to be done must be done,” he said.

Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a Boeing 777 aircraft, disappeared from radar screens on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Despite the largest search in aviation history, the plane has never been found and the operation was suspended in January 2017.

About 500 relatives and their supporters gathered Sunday at a shopping centre near the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur for a “remembrance day”, with many visibly overcome with grief.

Some of the relatives came from China, where almost two-thirds of the passengers of the doomed plane were from.

“The last 10 years have been a nonstop emotional rollercoaster for me,” Grace Nathan, a 36-year-old Malaysian lawyer whose mother, Anne Daisy, 56, was on the flight, told AFP.

Speaking to the crowd, she called on the Malaysian government to conduct a new search.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke told reporters that “as far Malaysia is concerned, it is committed to finding the plane… cost is not the issue”.

He told relatives at the gathering that he would meet with officials from Texas-based marine exploration firm Ocean Infinity, which conducted a previous unsuccessful search, to discuss a new operation.

“We are now awaiting for them to provide suitable dates and I hope to meet them soon,” he said.

An earlier Australia-led search that covered 120,000 square kilometres (46,000 square miles) in the Indian Ocean found hardly any trace of the plane, with only some pieces of debris picked up.