Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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MH370 Search To Go Back To Square One If Plane Not Found By May


(Photo : Reuters) Malaysian Minister of Transport Liow Tiong Lai gestures during an interview ahead of the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Putrajaya, March 6, 2015.

After Australia announced that the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may soon come to an end, Malaysia now says, it will come up with a new search plan if the plane is not found by end of May.

On the eve of the anniversary of MH370's disappearance, Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said he is positive the plane will still be found within the refined search area off the west coast of the Australian city of Perth.

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"By the end of May, if we still can't find the plane, then we will have to go back to the drawing board," Lai said. "We rely on the expert group ... to come up with the plan. I am cautiously optimistic it should be in this area."

In January, Malaysia declared the plane's disappearance an accident, and all 239 people on board are presumed dead.

But it is not giving up on the search.  "We need directions, we need plans, we need to review all the data that we have" Lai said.

Malaysia together with Australia and China are due to discuss search operations once they meet next month.

The two underwater vessels scouring the sea floor have so far search 40 percent of the 60,000 kilometer refined area.  On Friday, the search teams found 10 hard objects that are subject to analysis.

Just this week, Australia's Prime Minister Toby Abbott said the search for MH370 can't possibly go on forever, but promised they will do everything they can to provide answers to grieving families who are in need of closure.

Saturday marks the first year since MH370 disappeared shortly after take off from Kuala Lumpur.  Lai said, the government has implemented several improvements in aviation since the tragedy struck in 2014.  That includes upgrading the radar system and a new tracking system for Malaysia Airlines flights that sends aircraft data every 15 minutes. 

Lai said, an interim report on the MH370 investigation is set to be released to public on Sunday.    

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