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Malaysia to pay US firm up to $70M if it finds missing plane

AP  |  Putrajaya 

Malaysia's said it will pay US company up to USD 70 million if it can find the wreckage or black boxes of Airlines Flight 370 within three months, in a renewed bid to solve the plane's disappearance nearly four years ago.

said there was an 85 percent chance of finding the debris in a new 25,000 square kilometer (9,650 square mile) area roughly the size of identified by experts.

The signed a "no cure, no fee" deal with the Houston, Texas-based company to resume the hunt for the plane, a year after the by Malaysia, and in the was called off.

The plane vanished on March 8, 2014, while flying from to with 239 people on board.

"The primary mission by is to identify the location of the wreckage and/or both of the flight recorders ... and present a considerable and credible evidence to confirm the exact location of the two main items," he told a conference.

If the mission is successful within three months, payment will be made based on the size of the area searched. Liow said the will pay USD 20 million for 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square mile) of a successful search, USD 30 million for 15,000 square kilometers (5,790 sq. miles), USD 50 million for 25,000 square kilometers (9653 sq. miles) and USD 70 million if the plane or recorders are found beyond the identified area.

said the search vessel Seabed Constuctor, which left the South African port of last week, is expected to reach the southern by January 17 to begin the hunt.

He said eight autonomous underwater vehicles, which are drones fitted with high-tech cameras, sonars and sensors, will be dispatched to map the seabed at a faster pace. Plunkett said the underwater drones can cover 1,200 square kilometers (463 sq. miles) a day and complete the 25,000 square kilometers within a month.

"We have a realistic prospect of finding it," he said. "While there can be no guarantees of locating the aircraft, we believe our system of multiple autonomous vehicles working simultaneously is well suited to the task at hand."

The was extremely difficult because no transmissions were received from the aircraft after its first 38 minutes of flight.

Systems designed to automatically transmit the flight's position failed to work after this point, said a final report from last January.

"I feel very happy but at the same time very panicky whether it can be found or not. Now it's back to four years ago where we have to wait everyday (to find out) whether debris can be found," said Shin Kok Chau, whose wife Tan Ser Kuin was a flight attendant on MH370.

Underwater said the new search takes into account oceanographic models used to drastically narrow the possible locations of the crash and deploys state- of-the art underwater vehicles that will allow the company to cover far more seabed at a faster pace.

"There are no guarantees in a search of this type. However, notwithstanding that uncertainty, this upcoming search is the best chance yet that the aircraft wreckage will be found," said Mearns, of Blue Water Recoveries Ltd.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 11 2018. 11:05 IST