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Australia reports optimism on finding missing MH370 aircraft

Australian authorities say an analysis gives them confidence they're "searching in the right area" for the plane lost early last year. The operation could last until mid-2016, according to one official.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss shows the new search area in the Indian Ocean for missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss

Australian authorities on Thursday said they believe they are searching in the right area for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 jet, which went missing in March 2014 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

"We have a high level of confidence that we are searching in the right area," Assistant Minister for Defence Darren Chester said in a media conference in Australia's capital, Canberra.

Based on fresh analysis of data in the "MH370 - Definition of Underwater Search Areas" report, authorities believe the search is "well targeted" and that the aircraft is likely in the southern end of the Indian Ocean.

The Australian-led search has been scouring a 120,000-square-kilometer zone, but fresh analysis would narrow that to a 44,000-square-kilometer area in the Indian Ocean.

"We're optimistic and hopeful that the search will result in us locating the aircraft," Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said in Canberra.

The report, which was released by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group, determined the likely path of the flight using aircraft dynamics and data collected from satellite networks.

The ongoing search

Three Australian vessels are currently searching for signs of the plane using deep water sonar. A fourth ship, provided by the Chinese, is expected to join in the search in the coming months.

The only part of the plane that has so far been found was

a wing flap that washed ashore

on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean in July. No further traces have been found.

The entire procedure is scheduled to continue until the entire 120,000-square-kilometer zone is investigated, which Truss said could take until mid-2016.

smm/gsw (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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