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Search for MH370 will be completed by middle of next year; no more expansion of search area: ATSB

KUALA LUMPUR: The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 continues with more than 85,000 sq km of the South Indian Ocean seafloor scoured so far.

Australian Transportation Safety Bureau, in a statement today said that in the event that the aircraft is found and accessible, recovery plans had already been agreed on by Australia, Malaysia and China.

The plans include steps to secure all the evidence necessary for an accident investigation.

The statement added that the search will be completed by the middle of the year, adding that in the absence of credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, all three governments had agreed that there will be no further expansion of the search area.

Meanwhile, key developments this week show that the weather may continue to affect search operations but more favourable conditions are currently being experienced.

Search vessel Fugro Discovery departed on Saturday and is expected to arrive back at the search area tomorrow.

However, ATSB said subject to weather, the vessel is set to commence deeptow operations using the towfish which was recovered from the seafloor of Havila Harmony.

Fugro Equator continues to conduct underwater search operations, while Havila Harmony is currently on weather standby.

ATSB said the anticipated weather improvements will allow the resumption of underwater search operations in the next 48 hours.

As for Chinese vessel Dong Hai Jiu 101, ATSB said it had departed from Fremantle for the search on Sunday and is expected to arrive at the search area tomorrow.-nst

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