Search area for Malaysia airliner may double in size
Officials from three countries plan ahead in case the current recovery effort fails.
BEIJING — Officials from Malaysia, Australia and China agreed Thursday that if missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is not found this spring in the designated search area off the western coast of Australia, the zone would be doubled in size and the quest could continue for one more year.
Authorities are using underwater vehicles equipped with sonar to search more than 23,000 square miles, an effort expected to be finished by late spring; the work is about 60% complete.
The expanded search area would cover more than 46,000 square miles, about the size of Pennsylvania. This bigger area, in an arc sweeping from northeast to southwest, officials said, would “cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis.”
Searching in the expanded area would take up to a year because of the “adverse weather conditions in the upcoming winter months” of the Southern Hemisphere, the officials said.
Flight 370 vanished in March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. No trace of the jetliner, which had 239 people aboard, has been found.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai met in Kuala Lumpur with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Chinese Transport Minister Yang Chuantang.
The majority of the passengers on the flight were Chinese.
A NEW ZEALAND air force officer looks for debris from the missing plane in the Indian Ocean last April.