The search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been suspended.
Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
In a joint statement, the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese governments said the decision to abandon the search was not taken lightly, or without sadness:
“Despite every effort using the best science available, cutting-edge technology, as well as modelling and advice from highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field, unfortunately, the search has not been able to locate the aircraft.
“Whilst combined scientific studies have continued to refine areas of probability, to date no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft.”
Searchers led by engineering group Fugro have been combing an area roughly the size of Greece for two years.
Several pieces of aircraft wreckage have washed up on beaches in Africa and been positively identified as coming from MH370 but they shed little light on the mystery.
At a meeting of Ministers from Malaysia, Australia and China held in July 2016, it was agreed that should the aircraft not be located in the current search area, and in the absence of credible new evidence leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, the $160 million search would be suspended upon completion of the 120,000 square kilometer (46,332 square mile) search area.
In December 2016, investigators searching for the missing plane recommended that the search area be extended by 25,000 square kilometers (9,650 square miles). Australia rejected the recommendation, citing a lack of "credible evidence" to extend the search.
The recommendation followed a report citing extensive new drift analysis work which concluded that the plane would almost certainly not be found in the current area. Instead it will likely be found in a much smaller area to the north-east.
Earlier this month, aviation expert John Goglia, a safety consultant and former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, postulated that Boeing will most likely take the lead in a privately-run search. Boeing is yet to comment on any plans.