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Underwater search for the Malaysian Airlines plane that disappeared 3 years ago is called off

"Commercial planes cannot just be allowed to disappear without a trace."

The underwater search for the Malaysian Airlines plane that disappeared nearly three years ago has been called off.

Malaysia, China and Australia – which were working together to find flight MH370 – made the announcement Tuesday, saying "despite every effort using the best science available" they haven't been able to find the plane, so the underwater search, which covered nearly 46,300 miles in the southern Indian Ocean, is over.

MH370 was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.

"The decision to suspend the underwater search has not been taken lightly nor without sadness," the countries said in a statement. Ending the underwater search effectively means the search for the Boeing 777 is over, the BBC says, but notes private companies could continue to look for the missing aircraft.

A support group for the families who lost loved ones on MH370 released a statement in response to the end of the search, saying they are "dismayed" the search is over, and ask Malaysia, China and Australia to reconsider their decision.

The group – Voice370 – says new information shows the plane could have crashed into the ocean farther north of the search area, so it's "nothing short of irresponsible" to end the search at this stage.

"In our view, 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," Voice370 said in the statement.

To read more about the search efforts, click here.

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