The Australian government minister in charge of the suspended seabed search for the Malaysia Airlines jet told victims’ families and friends at an anniversary church service on 8 March 2017 that he remained hopeful that Flight 370 would be found. Darren Chester, minister for infrastructure and transport, and Angus Houston, the former Australian defence chief who coordinated the early months of the search efforts, were among around 100 who attended the private ceremony at St John’s Anglican Cathedral in the east city of Brisbane to mark the third anniversary of the mysterious tragedy. The private ceremony was attended by around 100 people including Darren Chester, Australian Minister for infrastructure and transport and Angus Houston, former Australian defence chief who coordinated the initial search efforts for the missing flight and diplomats from Malaysia, China and New Zealand.
The plane was carrying 239 people including 12 crew members. It had completed 53460 flight hours and 7525 take-offs and landings.The pilot had a record of more than 18000 flying hours and had been employed with the airlines since 1981.The air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane almost an hour after its take off.The flight was last detected on the military radar near the island of Pulau Perak at the northern end of the Strait of Malacca.Though no distress signal or message was sent from the plane, reports suggest that it attempted to turn back from its scheduled path. The weather conditions were also reported to be good. The plane’s disappearance launched one of the largest-ever international search efforts in the area over the South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean. Around 120000 sq km area of the seabed has been searched using advanced underwater drones and sonar equipment. A flaperon from the plane was discovered on Reunion Island more than 3700 km away from the main search site in July 2015.