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The Malaysian government has said the search area for the MH370 airliner that went missing will be expanded by another 60,000sq km in the Indian Ocean if it is not found by May.

Liow Tiong Lai, transport minister, said on Thursday that Malaysia, Australia and China, which are leading the search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 last year, are "committed to the search".

He said after meeting his counterparts from the other two countries that so far 61 percent of the current search area has been scoured off Australia's west coast.

The remaining area would have been searched by the end of May, he said.

"If the aircraft is not found within the 60,000sq km, we have collectively decided to extend the search to another 60,000sq km within the highest probability area,'' Associated Press news agency quoted Liow as saying.

He said the two areas together would cover 95 percent of the flight path of the plane, which went missing while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The plane dropped off radar, and investigators later figured out that it made a series of turns and headed in a completely opposite direction from where it was heading before crashing into the Indian Ocean.

"We are confident we are searching in the right area,'' Warren Truss, Australian transport minister, said at the news conference alongside Liow.

"We are confident we have the best search equipment ... if the plane is in the area we will find it.''

Truss said the additional search efforts may take up to a year to complete due to adverse weather conditions in the winter months, Reuters news agency said.

He said Malaysia and Australia will continue to fund the cost of the next phase of the search. He or the other ministers did now say how much it would cost.

Source: Agencies