WITH less than 15,000 square kilometers left to search, the massive search for missing flight MH370 will likely be coming to a close by August, the leader of the search team has said.
Martin Dolan, head of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, told The Australian newspaper that the 120,000 square kilometer crash zone will not be extended and that hopes of finding the aircraft are fading.
According to an AFP report by Channel News Asia, he said the search team is hoping to complete the search by the end of July or early August, depending on how rough the weather may get.
“The resources are there to continue the search but the resources to do it is a matter for government,” he said. The huge search has cost the governments involved a whopping US$130 million.
Dolan admitted there is “diminishing confidence” that the remaining search area will yield any successful results, and “there will be a lot of disappointment” if the team does not find the aircraft.
He said: “At worst we will know at the end of this process that the area we have searched does not contain the aircraft. At best we will find it.”
In an interview with Forbes in June 2014, Dolan was eager to solve the mystery, saying it was “the challenge of a career”.
At least five pieces of debris have been found, identified as either definitely or most likely from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, in countries as far away as South Africa, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Réunion Island.
The Malaysian government said on Wednesday that it would respect Australia’s decision to end the search, reported the New Straits Times newspaper.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told reporters: “Australia, which is leading the search, would have come to the decision following advice from experts, and Malaysia would respect that decision.”