Malaysia will not shift the underwater search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 after five pieces of debris were found in the western Indian Ocean, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Friday. The comments come just a day after Australian authorities confirmed that the two new debris pieces found on the beaches of South Africa and Mauritius were "almost certainly" from the missing Boeing 777-200.
Liow reportedly said that the discoveries of the debris aligned with the modeling pattern established by experts where the debris would drift after a crash in the southern Indian Ocean. He said the current search, which is ongoing in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, will be completed before authorities decide whether to further extend the hunt. More than 40,000 square miles of the total search area of 46,332 square miles has been scoured so far.
"We won't shift the search area. From the debris found, it actually confirms that our search area is the right area looking at the drift pattern," Liow said, adding that the area is the "most probable" crash site.
"It is important that we find more debris, more wreckage, so that we can actually analyze and find the cause of the incident," Liow said. "We are still confident of finding the main wreckage ... we are looking for an answer and we need to find wreckage."
Liow also said that officials from Malaysia, Australia and China will meet by June or July to "chart the future of the search."
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search for the missing plane, said Thursday that two debris pieces independently found on March 22 and March 30 on the beaches in Mossel Bay, South Africa, and Rodrigues Island in Mauritius, were "almost certainly" a segment of Boeing 777 engine cowling and an interior panel from the main cabin.
Last month, ATSB said that two items from Mozambique, which were found on Dec. 27, 2015, and Feb. 27, 2016, provided almost irrefutable evidence that the parts were from the missing plane.
In July 2015, a flaperon belonging to Flight MH370 turned up on the French-controlled Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
After months of search, which has cost nearly $70 million, authorities are yet to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Flight MH370, which went off radar on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.