By Melissa Locker
July 22, 2016
MH370 Flight
Credit: RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will be suspended by the end of the year if no new clues emerge as “the likelihood of finding the aircraft is fading,” according to officials.

The plane went missing on March 8, 2014, after departing Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a routine flight to Beijing. The search for answers for the families of the 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard the plane has continued ever since.

As the months have turned to years, the investigation has continued: International aviation authorities, reporters, and scientists have developed theories while trying to follow clues to the missing Boeing 777.

The $135-million search, the most expensive in aviation history, has focused on the Indian Ocean west of Australia, as it’s believed the plane turned west and then south before vanishing into the ocean. The extended search has only turned up a few pieces of debris near East Africa.

“In the absence of new evidence, Malaysia, Australia and China have collectively decided to suspend the search upon completion of the 46,300-square-mile search area,” Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said, as Fox News reported.

Although the search could soon end, friends and families of the missing are still hopeful that they will eventually get answers.

“We are very pleased that the search is being suspended and not terminated,” Grace Nathan, a lawyer whose mother, Anne Daisy Nathan, was on the flight, told the Wall Street Journal.

Malaysia's transport minister said the suspension of the search does not mean an end to it: “Should credible new information emerge which can be used to identify the specific location of the aircraft, consideration will be given in determining next steps,” he said.