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New plans signalled over MH370

If Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) is not found by the end of May, the three countries leading the search for the plane in the southern Indian Ocean will re-examine data and come up with a new plan, an official has said.

Malaysia's transport minister Liow Tiong Lai told a select group of foreign reporters on the eve of the first anniversary of the plane's disappearance during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that he remains cautiously optimistic that the Boeing 777 should be in the area where the underwater search has been ongoing.

He said Australia, Malaysia and China are due to meet next month to discuss the search efforts.

Mr Lai said he remains cautiously optimistic that the Boeing 777 should be in the area of the southern Indian Ocean where the search has been ongoing.

On January 29, Malaysia's government formally declared the plane an accident and said all 239 people on board were presumed dead.

Mr Lai added: "By the end of May, if we still can't find the plane, then we will have to go back to the drawing board.

"We rely on the expert group ... to come up with the plan. I am cautiously optimistic it should be in this area."

He said that ships looking for debris from the plane at the ocean floor off the coast of western Australia have so far scoured more than 40% of the 60,000 square foot area where the search has been focused on. In the latest report he received, he said the search team identified 10 hard objects which are still to be analysed.

Such findings, which often include refuse and cargo containers from passing ships, have been common and so far no trace of wreckage has been located.

Australian transport minister Warren Truss said last week that if the plane is not found by May, one option is to expand the hunt beyond the current search zone into a wider area surrounding it.

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