Malaysia, Australia and China are expected to hold a meeting early September to determine whether the search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 should be narrowed down, Malaysian officials said Saturday. The news comes a day after Malaysian authorities said that most of the debris found in the Maldives is “not related” to any plane.
The focus of the international search for the plane -- concentrated in the southern Indian Ocean -- shifted to the island of Réunion, near Madagascar, after a wing flap washed up on its shores last month. Malaysian officials confirmed last week that the flaperon came from Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
“Following confirmation of the flaperon as part of the aircraft, the search area would properly be redetermined and discussed in the meeting,” Datuk Jailani Johari, Malaysia's deputy minister for communications and multimedia, reportedly said.
According to Malaysia’s Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, officials are working to finalize a date and location for the tripartite meeting.
“With the discovery of the flaperon, we have to sit down with Australia and China to map the way forward to find the plane,” Kaprawi told Agence France-Presse. “We hope to refine and prioritize the search efforts. Definitely, the search will continue in the same area.”
However, French investigators are yet to confirm the flaperon’s link to MH370, and have only stated that there was a “very high probability” that it was from the missing Boeing 777-200.
So far, over 23,166 square miles of an expanded search area of 46,332 square miles in the southern Indian Ocean has been scoured to locate Flight MH370.