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Search area set to be doubled if MH370 not found

Malaysia jet

Kuala Lumpur: The search area for the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is set to be doubled by an additional 60,000 sq kilometres in the remote Indian Ocean if the plane’s wreckage is not found in the current search zone by May, it was announced today.

Malaysia, Australia and China collectively agreed to extend the search area to 120,000 square kilometres in the southern Indian Ocean if the ill-fated Boeing 777 remains elusive in the deep-sea zone being scanned now.

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers – including five Indians – and crew aboard mysteriously vanished enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.

Multi-national efforts to locate the plane has been futile even after an year due to difficulties faced by the operation in the remote and rugged seas, making it one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

Investigators believe the plane was flown thousands of kilometres off course before eventually crashing.

The extended search for the jetliner could take up to an year, officials said at a conference attended by Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Chinese Transport Minister Yang Chuantang.

The expanded search will begin immediately after the first phase is completed, Liow said.

“If the aircraft is not found in the current area, Malaysia, Australia and China have collectively agreed to extend the search area within the areas with the highest probability of where the plane could be,” he said.

“When that search is done, we would have covered 95 per cent of the aircraft’s estimated flight path. But we are hopeful that we can find it in the first 60,000 sq km. We have only covered 61 per cent of it,” he said.

The current search zone off Australia’s west coast was determined via expert analysis of signals detected from MH370 by a satellite.

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