More than two and a half years after the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from radars over the South China Sea and deviated off its flight path to move westward never to be seen whole again, Australian officials announced tentative plans to extend the search once again with as much as $30 million in funding.
The extended search would switch from its current zone of interest north to an area closer to the 34th parallel in the Indian Ocean, ABC News Australia reported Tuesday. The airline operating the disappeared jet also agreed last week to open up a large cache of company records to victims’ lawyers that were previously only available to Malaysian police.
The search for the missing plane has been plagued with logistical difficulties, including bad weather that has kept ships from going out to see to continue the search. Extensive searches of massive portions of the sea floor have yielded few results and only a smattering of debris from the plane, including wing pieces and doors that washed up on the eastern shores of Africa.
An operational update from the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau, the agency leading the search efforts for the plane, announced last month that they were pushing back the end date for the search from December of this year until January or February of 2017.
Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014 after taking off on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board.
In the legal fight between Malaysia and victims’ relatives, efforts to hire outside counsel from the United States were blocked last month when a Malaysian high court judge ruled that those plaintiffs were adequately represented and did not need high-profile American lawyers to fly in from the states. Nearly 70 relatives of 32 of the victims on the disappeared flight filed suit against the Malaysian government and the Royal Malaysian Air Force. Those plaintiffs, of Chinese, Indian and American nationalities, are seeking damages for the crash that they say resulted from negligence.