KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia said Friday the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will not be shifted after the discoveries of five pieces of debris in the western Indian Ocean.
The government this week had confirmed the last two pieces, found in South Africa and Rodrigues Island off Mauritius, are "almost certainly" from the Boeing 777 that disappeared mysteriously more than two years ago.
Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the discoveries aligned with the modeling pattern established by experts of where debris would drift from a crash in the southern Indian Ocean. He said the 120,000 square kilometers search area, west of Australia, will be completed before authorities decide whether to further extend the hunt.
"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.
The area is the "most probable" crash site and authorities have so far covered more than 105,000 square kilometers, he said.
"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."
Officials from Malaysia, Australia and China will meet by June or July to "chart the future of the search," Liow said without elaborating. Australia has been leading the search, which so far has turned up empty. Most of the passengers on the flight, which carried 239 people, were from China.
The three pieces of debris confirmed from the plane earlier were found on France's Reunion Island and along Mozambique's coast.
Though the discoveries have bolstered authorities' assertion that the plane crashed somewhere in the Indian Ocean, none of the parts thus far has yielded any clues into exactly where and why the aircraft crashed. Those elusive answers lie with the flight data recorders, or black boxes, which experts say may never be found.