Malaysia has praised Australia's commitment to continue searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 despite the growing costs of search efforts. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to continue searching for the plane to help families who are missing their loved ones. On May 7, the ministers from China, Malaysia and Australia will meet in Canberra to announce a new phase in the search for the lost aircraft carrying 239 people onboard.
More than 300 flights and 3000 hours in the air have been logged in the international joint effort to recover any sign of the missing plane. International crews have scoured the seas looking for plane debris and endured bad weather conditions to continue the search. According to reports, 4.6 million square kilometres of ocean have been covered with no concrete evidence of the Malaysia Airlines plane.
Since the plane went missing on March 8 and despite the massive search involving 26 countries, search officials have nothing to show the families and relatives of the people aboard the missing aircraft. Authorities are moving on to the next phase of the search.
Chinese Transport Minister Yang Chuangtang said the target area of the follow-up search will be wider and they expect to encounter more difficulties and tougher tasks.
The Chinese, Malaysian and Australian officials are expected to lay out plans for the next phase of the search on May 7. Reports said that one group will tackle the resources needed in the next stage while another will analyse the collected data and information.
A data audit team will check the information gathered since the start of the search. Australia Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said the group will also analyse the satellite information that has been accumulated to ensure everything was interpreted accurately.
Mr Truss said the next phase of the MH370 search will use highly specialised technology such as towed side-scan sonar and more autonomous underwater vehicles. Angus Houston, chief coordinator of the joint search effort, said he can count in one hand the number of devices that can perform the search.
Mr Truss said he is hoping that the new tools and devices will be deployed in the water within one or two months.
Australia has calculated the estimated cost and said it would be about $60 million. Mr Truss said Australian officials will meet with their counterparts from Malaysia, China and other countries involved to determine how the cost will be shared. All countries in the joint search efforts have paid for their own expenses until now.
Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the new phase of the search will allow the more parties to join and contribute resources.