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Experts: 'MH370 will be found'

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The new field of deep-sea mining may eventually dig up the watery remains of the missing plane

SYDNEY: The official search for MH370 may have been called off but experts believe the missing airliner will be found, either by deep-sea miners or treasure hunters lured by a huge reward.

After spending almost three years and US$150 million (S$214 million) on a deep-sea hunt for the Malaysian passenger jet in the remote Indian Ocean off western Australia, aviation investigators have come up with nothing.

More questions than answers have arisen since the Boeing 777 vanished in March 2014 and relatives of the 239 passengers and crew fear that China and Malaysia are admitting defeat in the face of one of the world's most enduring aviation mysteries.

The only physical evidence have been debris found on western Indian Ocean shorelines, far from the official search, and relatives have launched their own inquiries in Madagascar.

Treasure hunters may also get involved if a multi-million-dollar prize is offered, said former US Air Force aviator Ronald Bishop from Australia's Central Queensland University. "Sometimes private firms work a bit better," he said, noting they were likely to believe witnesses until they could be disproven.

In contrast, government agencies were more quick to dismiss witnesses' evidence if they were a "little bit over-the-top".

Australia's transport minister Darren Chester stressed the search could be revived if there is "credible new evidence" pinpointing MH370's location.

For oceanographer Erik van Sebille of Imperial College London, the new field of deep-sea mining could be the key to one day stumbling across MH370's watery grave.

Searching for debris in the oceans is a challenge because electromagnetic radiation like radar and X-rays do not work in seawater.

"It is easier to point a telescope at Mars than to look at our own ocean floor," he told AFP. "There's now a commercial incentive to go and have a very close look at the ocean floor... and at some point, somehow, somebody might stumble upon the black box or a significant part of the plane."The lack of a final resting place and a clear explanation for MH370's disappearance have spawned theories like a Taliban hijacking, a meteor strike and even a diversion by the CIA.

Investigators have pursued leads of a possible hijacking, rogue pilot action or mechanical failure.

Relatives from Malaysia and China, where most of the passengers were from, are also suspicious of their governments, believing authorities are hiding something.

Mr Bishop remains optimistic the plane will eventually be found, giving closure to families.

"The Titanic took until the 1980s to find," he said of the search for the ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank in the north Atlantic in 1912.

"I really think we're going to find (MH370) eventually." - AFP