Expand search for missing Malaysia Flight MH370: Expert

Bangkok, Dec 20 (IANS) Investigators leading the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane, which disappeared in March 2014, have recommended expanding the search area, official sources said.

The experts want the search area expanded to an additional 25,000 square km in the Indian Ocean, Efe news reported on Tuesday.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau made the proposal as it was about to suspend the search for wreckage in a 120,000 sq km area that was initially determined as a priority.

Australia is leading the search operation, which also includes Malaysia and China, in the remote area which was made the focus of after analysis of satellite signals and marine currents.

However, no signs of the plane have been found so far.

It was now likely that the search operation would be completed in January.

The ATSB proposed to expand the search following a meeting of experts in November to reassess the latest available information – including several objects found on the beaches on the western side of the Indian Ocean.

“There is a high degree of confidence that the previously identified underwater area searched to date does not contain the missing aircraft,” the ATSB said in its latest report.

Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board, most of them Chinese, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Contact was lost just 40 minutes after take-off when the aircraft’s communication systems were suddenly shut down.

So far, plane debris were found on the beaches of Reunion Island, Mozambique, Mauritius, South Africa and the French island of Rodrigues – places that match the pattern of the Indian Ocean’s currents and where the search is being carried out.