A crew member looks out an observation window aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion maritime search aircraft as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean, looking for MH370 debris, in 2014. (Richard Polden/Reuters file)

The already massive Indian Ocean search zone for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will double if wreckage of the missing aircraft isn’t located, government officials said.

Officials from Australia, Malaysia and China said in a joint statement that they remain “committed to bring closure and some peace” to the families of those who were aboard the jetliner, which went missing during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.

More than 200 people were on the plane when it disappeared.

“Should the aircraft not be found within the current search area, Ministers agreed to extend the search by an additional 60,000 square kilometres to bring the search area to 120,000 square kilometres and thereby cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis,” the statement read. “Ministers recognise the additional search area may take up to a year to complete given the adverse weather conditions in the upcoming winter months.

“Upon completion of the additional 60,000 square kilometres, all high probability search areas would have been covered.”


Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters that the next phase of the search was expected to cost about 50 million Australian dollars (about $39 million in U.S. currency), according to Reuters.

“We are confident we are searching in the right area,” Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss told reporters, according to a BBC report. “We are confident we have the best search equipment … if the plane is in the area, we will find it.”

[This post has been updated.]

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