Malaysian authorities said Monday that the country has spent 27.6 million ringgit ($8.6 million) on its search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. This is the first time officials have outlined a specific figure since the flight disappeared on March 8.
"The figure of 27.6 million ringgit was only the sum spent by Malaysian agencies, we do not know how much other countries spent," Department of Civil Aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman reportedly told a news conference, saying he was unsure of the cost breakdown.
The cost of the search for the missing Boeing 777, which was carrying 239 people on board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, is set to make aviation history and rise further as the area expands to include a larger part of the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast. So far, search and recovery efforts have failed to recover any signs of the missing jetliner.
Latest analysis of satellite and other data will be discussed Tuesday in Australia and in China later this week to determine a new search area. Azharuddin predicted it "will not be very far away from where the search is now."
At the moment, the search area has been extended to include a 23,000-square-mile zone that is being surveyed by a Chinese vessel. The area will then be searched by a commercial mission expected to start in August and take a year. The estimated cost of the mission is A$60 million ($55 million) or more, and will be shared equally by Malaysia and Australia.
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