Search for missing Malaysian plane shifts south

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(AP)

Australia announced on Thursday a new search area for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

The area will be the focus of future search efforts and is based on the findings of an expert satellite working group.

The group has reviewed all existing information to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometers along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean.

Australia’s deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, said the refined search area would still be focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite.

But the search would shift to an area further south along the arc based on the calculations of the international experts.

“The new priority area is still focused on the same seventh arc on the southern Indian Ocean where the aircraft last communicated with satellite. We are shifting our attention to an area further south along that arc,” Truss told a press conference at the Parliament House on Thursday morning.

The search for MH370 is ongoing, with a three-month mapping of the ocean floor in the search area to be followed by a comprehensive search of the sea floor, he said.

Truss said it is highly likely that the aircraft was on auto-pilot when it entered the water.

It is expected that the underwater search will begin in August and take up to 12 months to complete.

Malaysia and Australia are developing a memorandum of understanding to determine the areas of cooperation in the search and recovery activities, including financial arrangements.

Australia, Malaysia and China have reaffirmed their commitment to continuing to search for MH370 and to keep families informed of developments.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared on March 8 after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.
(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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