This July 2015 photo shows an autonomous underwater vehicle being deployed in the underwater search for the missing MH370 aircraft. (ATSB photo)

MH370 Hunters Agree Not to Terminate Search

Only 10,000 square kilometers of the high-priority search area remaining to be searched, and the three governments involved had agreed earlier to stop searching if the missing plane wasn’t found in that area. But they agreed July 22 only to suspend the search if that is what happens.

The intensive search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing MH370 aircraft may continue after ships finish searching a 120,000 square kilometer area designated as the high-priority search area, the three governments engaged in this effort announced July 22. Less than 10,000 square kilometers of the high-priority area remaining to be searched, and the governments involved had agreed earlier to stop searching if the missing plane was not found in that area. But they agreed July 22 only to suspend the search if that is what happens.

Senior ministers from Australia, Malaysia, and the People's Republic of China came to that agreement during a meeting in Putrajaya, Malaysia to discuss the situation. Malaysian Minister of Transport Dato' Sri Liow Tiong Lai chaired the meeting with Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Chinese Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang participating, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's communique.

"Attention was particularly focused on delays to the search as a result of damaged equipment and recent poor weather, as well as discussion about the discovery of aircraft debris and what it meant in relation to search efforts and the investigation," it said. "While acknowledging the significance of the debris, Ministers noted that to date, none of it had provided information that positively identified the precise location of the aircraft. With less than 10,000 square kilometres of the high priority search area remaining to be searched, Ministers acknowledged that despite the best efforts of all involved, the likelihood of finding the aircraft is fading. Ministers agreed that should the aircraft not be located in the current search area, and in the absence of credible new evidence leading to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, the search would not end, but be suspended upon completion of the 120,000 square kilometre search area."

If credible new information emerges that can be used to identify the specific location of the aircraft, they will determine their next steps, it said.

The Boeing 777-200ER aircraft disappeared from air traffic control radar March 8, 2014, after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on a flight to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. Analysis of satellite data indicated the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean where the search has been taking place.

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