World

Malaysia to pay US firm up to $93 million if it finds MH370

KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia signed a deal yesterday to pay a US seabed exploration company up to US$70 million (S$93 million) if it finds a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in the southern Indian Ocean.

Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard after apparently going far off course.

Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200 million (S$209 million) search of an area of 120,000 sq km in January last year, despite investigators urging the search be extended to a 25,000 sq km area further to the north.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Houston-based private company Ocean Infinity will search for MH370 in the 25,000 sq km priority area. It will get paid only if it finds the plane.

The search is expected to be completed within 90 days, he told a news conference.

"As we speak, the vessel, Seabed Constructor, is on her way to the search area, taking advantage of favourable weather conditions in the south Indian Ocean," Mr Liow said in a statement.

The vessel will have 65 crew members, including two government representatives from the Malaysian navy.

The operation will begin on Jan 17, said Ocean Infinity chief executive Oliver Plunkett, who attended the signing event.

Ocean Infinity will be paid US$20 million if the plane is found within 5,000 sq km, US$30 million if it is found within 10,000 sq km and US$50 million if it is found within an area of 25,000 sq km. Beyond that, Ocean Infinity will receive $70 million, Mr Liow said. - REUTERS

WORLD