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Report on Missing Malaysia Plane Finds Nothing Alarming

Liu Guiqiu, whose son was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, cries during a gathering of family members of the missing passengers outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, March 8, 2015.
Liu Guiqiu, whose son was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, cries during a gathering of family members of the missing passengers outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing, March 8, 2015.

Malaysia on Sunday released an interim investigation report on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, exactly one year after the Boeing 777 disappeared without a trace with 239 passengers and crew on board.

The report shed no new light on the mystery, clearing the pilot and flight crew of any behavioral abnormalities or habits and also noting that nothing alarming was found in an investigation of maintenance records.

The only unusual finding was that the battery powering the plane's location beacon had expired a year before the disappearance. This was not noted until after MH370 disappeared, and Malaysia Airlines engineers carried out a fleet-wide inspection of underwater locator beacons to ensure that the records for all of its aircraft were updated.

However, the failure of the beacon does not affect the recorder itself, and the investigation team did not point out any problems with the black boxes.

Normality of the flight

Apart from the anomaly of the expired battery, the detailed report devoted page after page to describe the complete normality of the flight, which disappeared an hour into its flight March 8, 2014, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, setting off aviation's biggest mystery.

Searchers believe it crashed in water depths up to 4,000 meters.

The 584-page report by a 19-member independent investigation group also went into minute details about the crew's lives, including their medical and financial records and training. It also detailed the aircraft's service record, as well as the weather, communications systems and other aspects of the flight.

Despite an estimated $200 million having been spent in a multinational search far off Australia’s western coast, no trace of the jetliner has been found.

Search ships have so far scoured 44 percent of a 60,000-square-kilometer area in the Indian Ocean where investigators estimate the plane went down.

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement Sunday, "Malaysia remains committed to the search and hopeful that MH370 will be found."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott remains confident the aircraft will be found.

“I know that there will be a nagging doubt in the minds of billions of people until such time as we can find that plane. As long as there are reasonable leads the search will go on," Abbott said.

"We have got 60,000 square kilometers that is the subject of this search. If that’s unsuccessful, there’s another 60,000 square kilometers that we intend to search, and, as I said we are reasonably confident of finding the plane," he added.

The head of the investigation team, Kok Soo Chon, said, "In the months ahead, the investigation team will need to analyze to draw conclusions and safety recommendations based on the factual information that has been gathered."

Relatives gather

Meanwhile, relatives of the Chinese passengers on the flight gathered at temples in Beijing to mark the anniversary.

"The report they gave us today is a similar version of former ones. It has nothing new," said Dai Shuqin, whose sister and four other relatives where aboard the missing flight.

Speaking on Malaysian TV, Malaysian Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya noted the frustration.

“We hope the government will carry on the search until we find the aircraft. There will be experts and we will be guided -- all those experts and we will be guided by them. But I do hope that we will carry on until we find the answers," Yahya said.

Ministers from Australia, China, and Malaysia are to discuss plans to fund another stage in the search for the aircraft at a meeting in April.

Ron Corben contributed to this article from Bangkok. Some material for this report came from Reuters.