A new clue has emerged in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which suggests that the Beijing-bound plane turned south earlier than previously thought, Australian authorities said Thursday. The search for the jetliner, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board, shortly after leaving Kuala Lumpur, has so far yielded no concrete clues as to its whereabouts.
The search area for the Boeing 777 in the southern Indian Ocean has been refined after an analysis of a failed satellite phone call from the airline company to the plane “suggests to us that the aircraft might have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected,” Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss reportedly said. The latest analysis follows an announcement by Australia and Malaysia that the two countries have agreed to share the cost of the next phase of the search for Flight MH370.
"The search area remains the same, but some of the information that we now have suggests to us that areas a little further to the south - within the search area, but a little further to the south - are of particular interest and priority in the search area," Truss reportedly said.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who reportedly said at the press conference in Canberra that the next stage of the search is estimated to cost up to $48.66 million, added that investigators believed that the mystery behind the disappearance of the plane cannot be solved until the wreckage and the aircraft's black boxes are recovered.
"So it is important here that we would like to thank Australia for leading this search and we have so far committed and spent about A$15 million (about $14 million) and we are also going to match the Australians in the tender cost for the search," he said, according to Reuters.
The latest search, which will focus on 23,000 square miles of sea floor about 1,000 miles west of Perth, is expected to begin next month, and Dutch contractor Fugro Survey, assisted by Chinese navy vessels, will conduct a detailed underwater mapping of the ocean floor.
"I want to assure the loved ones of the passengers and crew on-board MH370 that we are resolute in our efforts to search for this aircraft,” Liow reportedly said. "I have been touched by many of the stories I have heard and we will do our best to engage the next of kin and help them find closure."