The fruitless search for Flight MH370 is an "agonizing mystery," Malaysia's prime minister said Tuesday as grieving families marked the second anniversary of the disappearance of the plane and its 239 passengers and crew.
"On this most difficult of days, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who will never be forgotten," Najib Razak said. "We know that neither the passage of time, nor this evidence, will comfort those whose grief cannot be assuaged."
He also pledged to continue the search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 but a separate update from the country's civil aviation authority was more blunt, stating that a final accident report would be completed "in the event wreckage … is located or the search … is terminated, whichever is the earlier."
In the absence of wreckage, grieving families marked Tuesday's milestone in different ways. Some gathered outside a temple in Beijing to express anger at the lack of progress. Some have filed lawsuits, including 12 families who did so Monday. Some have accepted cash settlements with Malaysia Airlines in exchange for agreeing not to file suit. Many are still debating what to do, and some cling to the hope their loved ones are, somewhere, still alive.
"People say we are nuts," said Dai Shuqin, 62, whose younger sister was on the flight along with her sister's husband, son, daughter-in-law and grandson. "But for us, we have the feeling that our loved ones are still alive."
Officials "just tell us all the passengers are dead. We don't accept that. If they tell us the truth, or give us a convincing explanation, then we'll stop coming here every day."
Kelly Wen, who runs a furniture store, is desperate to move on after her husband disappeared with the plane, but she remains overwhelmed by the loss.
"My family is still in the shadow of the MH370 accident," said Wen, a 31-year-old Beijing resident with a 5-year-old son now left without a father. "I can't work like I did before because there are too many issues I need to handle in my family. But I do hope I can gradually walk out of the accident and go back to work."
In his statement, Razak said Malaysia's government remained "committed to doing everything within our means to solving what is an agonizing mystery for the loved ones of those who were lost."
He also thanked those involved in the painstaking search of the southern Indian Ocean, describing the operation as "the most challenging in aviation history."
"Amidst some of the world's most inhospitable terrain — at depths of up to 6 km (3.7 miles), across underwater mountain ranges, and in the world's fastest currents — the search team have been working tirelessly to find MH370's resting place," Razak said. "We are grateful for their efforts."