The Australian government's Federal Budget Tuesday did not provide extra funding for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, fading hopes that the search for the missing plane will continue after the July deadline. The search for Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8, 2014, has been ongoing for more than two years in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.
On Tuesday, Treasurer Scott Morrison reportedly handed down the 2016 Budget, which did not include any additional money for the Boeing 777-200's search. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search operation, also faced job cuts and saw its funding slashed massively from $102 million this financial year to $19.4 million per year after the end of search, Herald Sun reported.
Australia has already spent nearly $90 million in a desperate attempt to find the wreckage. In its latest search update Wednesday, ATSB said it has scoured more than 40,000 sq. miles of the total search area of 46,332 sq. miles, with operations expected to be called off in July. The agency also gave updates on the search vessels scouring the ocean floor.
Amid growing concerns over the diminishing possibility of an extension of the search operation, families of the 239 people who had boarded the plane hoped for answers to the mystery behind the plane's disappearance as several debris pieces were found over the last few months on the coastlines of South Africa and Mauritius.
Last month, ATSB announced that stenciled codes on two debris pieces found along the coast of the southeast African nation of Mozambique "almost certainly" proved they originated from Flight MH370. Australian authorities also said that two other items — the South Africa piece with the Rolls-Royce logo and the piece found on the Rodrigues Island in Mauritius — were being analyzed in ATSB laboratories to determine their origin.
In July 2015, a flaperon belonging to Flight MH370 turned up on the French-controlled Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean.