It’s become one of the biggest mysteries to baffle the minds of millions from around the globe and the costliest: what happened to Malaysia Airlines 370? Departing for Beijing, less than an hour after takeoff air traffic control lost contact with all crew members on board.
“We realize this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board. No words can describe the pain they must be going through,” stated Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a recent statement. “Our thoughts and our prayers are with them.”
Still weeks after the crash, no one truly knows for sure what happened to the Boeing aircraft. There’s been no indication of a crash site or even confirmation of flight debris found anywhere.
With family members of the passengers hanging on to hope and begging authorities for answers, the search and rescue effort for Flight 370 has reportedly become the largest and most expensive in history. According to Razak, more than 20 countries, 75 ships and 60 aircraft are actively looking for the plane.
“The search for this aircraft has been one of the most difficult ever undertaken anywhere in the world, in a very remote location, in difficult conditions,” stated Warren Truss, Australia’s deputy prime minister.
Based on data recently provided from a British satellite company, Malaysia’s prime minister says the plane likely went down somewhere in the southern part of the Indian Ocean.
Officials say the last known location of the plane was pinpointed in Southwest Perth, Australia. It’s in this area that search crews have concentrated most of their efforts in locating what’s possibly left of the plane.
“At this difficult time, Australia has proven an invaluable friend. The Australian authorities, like so many others, have offered their assistance without hesitation or delay. I would like to sincerely thank Australia for all they have done, and are doing, to find the plane,” the prime minister recently stated.
According to Truss, more than 4.6 million square kilometers of the Indian Ocean has been rigorously searched with the help of the Bluefin-21. From planes to submarines, even NASA has joined in to help.
“Activities under way include mining data archives of satellite data acquired earlier and using space-based assets, such as the Earth-Observing-1(EO-1) satellite and the ISERV camera on the International Space Station, to acquire new images of possible crash sites,” Allan Beutel recently confirmed to Space.com.
Unfortunately, the search effort continues to turn up empty and the costs only mounting more and more each day.
According to Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren, the search has cost the United States alone more than $11 million dollars with approximately $5 million spent on operation and maintenance, about $4 million for underwater search equipment and about $3 million in overseas humanitarian and civic aid funds.
One media outlet in Australia has reported that the country is spending more than $500,000 a day on just one of its ships.
CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans estimated that the search is likely costing all countries involved a combined $21 million per month.
While some critics may question whether the hefty price tag is worth it, Malaysia’s prime minister says the search will continue.
“I know that until we find the plane, many families cannot start to grieve,” he said. “I cannot imagine what they must be going through. But I can promise them that we will not give up.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s deputy prime minister has made it clear that there’s no timetable as to when the plane might be found. He has also stated that the three major countries involved in the search will likely share the costs with other governments and private companies.