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Search For Missing Malaysia Airlines Jetliner Will Be Suspended

Relatives of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 hold placards following a joint press conference on the search for the missing airliner Friday. The search will be suspended if nothing turns up in the current area, officials say.

Three countries leading the effort to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people aboard, say they plan to suspend their search for the missing airliner. While the search has turned up tantalizing clues, officials say hope of finding the jet is fading.

Despite finding debris that promised to be from the Boeing 777, ministers from Malaysia, China and Australia who met this week to discuss the state of the search also noted that "none of it had provided information that positively identified the precise location of the aircraft."

From Beijing, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports:

"Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters that searchers are not giving up, they're just going to put the search on hold until they get some information on the plane's location.

"They've already spent $135 million and scoured over 46,000 square miles of the southern Indian Ocean looking for it. The current phase of the search is almost finished but has been delayed by poor weather.

"The cause of the plane's disappearance remains a mystery. One explanation is that the pilot might have crashed the plane into the ocean on purpose, but Transport Minister Liow says there's not enough evidence to support that."

The Malaysian transport minister was meeting with his counterparts from China, where many of the passengers were from, and from Australia, which is leading the search effort. They say the current search, of an area about 120,000 square kilometers, is nearly at an end, and that the chances it will prove fruitful are slim.

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