The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is officially over

The families of those on board have expressed their dismay at the decision.

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is officially over

A board with the characters "Pray for MH370 safe return" meant for relatives and workers to write their prayers and well wishes in Beijing | Image: Ng Han Guan / AP/Press Association Images

The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been called off.

The Boeing 777 aircraft was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014 when it disappeared.

There were 239 people on board, including 12 members of crew. Most of the passengers were from China.

Analysis later concluded that the plane had crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, more than 1,000 miles west of Australia.

In July 2015, part of the aeroplane's wing was found on Reunion Island. Debris believed to be from the aircraft has also washed ashore in Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar and Tanzania.

However, very little of the plane has been found and investigators are still no closer to understanding what happened to the plane.

In a joint statement the transport ministers of Malaysia, Australia and China said: "Today the last search vessel has left the underwater search area.

"Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000 square-kilometre (46,000 square miles) underwater search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

"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.

"Accordingly, the underwater search for MH370 has been suspended. The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness."

"Nothing short of irresponsible"

The families of those on board have expressed their dismay at the decision. In a statement the group, called Voice370, said: "Extending the search to the new area defined by the experts is an inescapable duty owed to the flying public in the interest of aviation safety.

"Commercial Planes cannot just be allowed to disappear without a trace. Having already searched 120,000 square kilometres, stopping at this stage is nothing short of irresponsible, and betrays a shocking lack of faith in the data, tools and recommendations of an array of official experts assembled by the authorities themselves.

"We appeal to Malaysia, China and Australia to reconsider the decision to suspend the search."