The search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will be expanded by another 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) in the Indian Ocean if the jetliner is not found by May, officials said Thursday, affirming their commitment to not give up until it is located.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that Malaysia, Australia and China, which are leading the hunt for the Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 last year, are "committed to the search."
He told reporters after meeting with his counterparts from the other two countries that so far 61 percent of the 60,000 kilometer (23,000-square-mile) search area has been scoured off Australia's west coast. The remaining 39 percent would have been searched by the end of May, he said.
"If the aircraft is not found within the 60,000 square kilometers, we have collectively decided to extend the search to another 60,000 square kilometers within the highest probability area," he said. However, searchers are hopeful that they can find the plane in the current search area, he said.
The announcement removes some ambiguity about the future of the search as it was never made clear what would happen if the plane is not found. It will also come as a solace to the relatives of the victims, who are holding out the hope of recovering the bodies. (AP)