Search area for Malaysia air­liner may dou­ble in size

Of­fi­cials from three coun­tries plan ahead in case the cur­rent re­cov­ery ef­fort fails.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Julie Maki­nen julie.maki­nen@la­ Twit­ter: @JulieMakLAT

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.

Greg Wood Pool Photo

A NEW ZEALAND air force of­fi­cer looks for de­bris from the miss­ing plane in the In­dian Ocean last April.

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