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Ministers meet on MH370 search

dpadpa 22/07/2016

Australia's transport minister is meeting with his Malaysian and Chinese counterparts to decide the future of the search for MH370.

Transport ministers from China, Australia and Malaysia are meeting in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the future of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing more than two years ago.

The current search area in the southern Indian Ocean has been nearly completely scoured, yet the main wreckage has not been found.

Pieces of debris from MH370 have been discovered in South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius and Reunion Island.

The aircraft disappeared without a trace on March 8, 2014, nearly an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.

Relatives of the 239 people on board the aircraft have urged authorities to continue searching until the wreckage is found.

So far, the search has not yielded a single clue. Officials have said the search for the Boeing 777, which so far has cost $A180 million - the most expensive in aviation history - will end later this year unless new credible evidence is found.

Representatives from Voice 370, a group representing family members of the plane's 239 passengers and crew, met with Australian officials in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

They urged the governments to suspend, rather than end the search, until new funds can be raised. They also called for a wider base of funding, including from Boeing and other plane and component manufacturers.

The three governments are involved because the airline was Malaysian, most of the passengers were Chinese, and the suspected crash site is off southwestern Australia.

"We are counting on world governments not to give up on us, not to give up on MH370," said Jacquita Gonzales, whose husband Patrick Gomes was a crew member on the plane.

Australian officials still hope the plane will be spotted in the current search area, but they agreed the search should continue if new funding is provided, although this is up to the governments, said Grace Subathirai Nathan, who lost her mother, Anne Daisy.

She said that officials should consider the possibility that their calculations were wrong and that the plane may have crashed outside the current search area.

Western Australia University oceanographer Charitha Pattiaratchi, whose calculations helped an American adventurer find potential debris from the missing jet, said on Thursday the plane could have crashed slightly north of the current search area.

Adventurer Blaine Gibson has handed Malaysian authorities three pieces of debris and personal belongings he found on Madagascar beaches and which he suspects came from the Boeing 777.

Pattiaratchi said the same drift modelling that Gibson relied on while looking for the debris led his team of oceanographers to suspect the plane could have gone down just north of the search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

"The best guess that we think is that it's probably around the Broken Ridge region, which is slightly to the north of the area that they're looking at," Pattiaratchi said.

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