With the area of seabed being searched for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 almost completely surveyed, the search will be doubled if the plane is not found by the end of May.
The plane, which vanished without trace in March last year in probably the greatest aviation mystery of all time, is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast. Many people feel vital facts are being hidden and all kinds of theories, some of them outré, have been advanced as to where the plane might be.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss met with Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai and his Chinese counterpart, Yang Chuantang, in Kuala Lumpur last week. Truss pledged to double the current search area if necessary.
“Should the aircraft not be found within the current search area, ministers agreed to extend the search by an additional 60,000 square kilometres to bring the search area to 120,000 square kilometres and thereby cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis,” the ministers said in a joint statement.
“Ministers recognise the additional search area may take up to a year to complete given the adverse weather conditions in the upcoming winter months.”
Truss added that “if the aircraft is in the area we are looking, we will find it”.
Six months have passed since Malaysian Defence Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said he was “99.9 per cent” sure the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 would be found in the southern Indian Ocean.
Truss said last week: “Clearly the important thing in finding the aircraft is to try and develop a plausible explanation for why this disaster has occurred.”
He said Australia and Malaysia would continue to share the costs of the search, which is expected to be about AUD 50 million, ABC News reported.
The search has cost AUD 150 million so far and the current search is expected to finish in May.
It involves four vessels owned by Dutch engineering firm Fugro, equipped with hi-tech underwater drones.
So far, they have electronically scoured more than 60% of the 60,000-square-kilometre expanse of sea floor, most of it hitherto unmapped, that had been designated the highest priority.
No trace has been found of the B777 which disappeared in March 2014 carrying 239 passengers and crew, including six Australians.
Two other sinister aviation events have happened since – the shooting down of another Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine and the recent crash of a Germanwings A320, believed to have been deliberately crashed in the French Alps by a deranged pilot. All aboard have died in the latter two incidents and everyone aboard MH370 is believed to have died as well.
Written by Peter Needham