MH370: U.S. Firm Ocean Infinity Offers to Hunt For Missing Jet

Image: File picture of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777
The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing in March 2014 flies over Poland around a month earlier.Tomasz Bartkowiak / Reuters

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By Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia — An American seabed exploration company said Friday it has offered to take the financial risk of conducting a renewed search for missing Malaysia Airlines MH370.

Ocean Infinity's offer comes after victims' families have been urging the Malaysian government to agree to a private-sector hunt for Flight 370's wreckage.

After nearly three years, Malaysia, Australia and China suspended a 46,000 square-mile search of remote seabed in the southern Indian Ocean. They failed to find any trace of the Boeing 777.

Ocean Infinity said it remained hopeful Malaysia would accept its offer to continue the search using a team of advanced, fast-moving deep-sea drones fitted with sonar equipment.

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"The terms of the offer are confidential, but I can ... confirm that Ocean Infinity have offered to take on the economic risk of a renewed search," the company said in an email.

"We're in a constructive dialogue with the relevant authorities and are hopeful that the offer will be accepted," it added.

Voice370, a support group for families of the 239 people on board, said Ocean Infinity "would like to be paid a reward if and only if it finds the main debris field" according to the terms of the offer made in April.

"Why hasn't Malaysia accepted this win-win offer?" Voice370 asked in a statement.

Malaysia did not immediately respond to the families' question Friday.

The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing in March 2014 flies over Poland around a month earlier.Tomasz Bartkowiak / Reuters

An international board of experts concluded the flight most likely crashed in a 9,700-square-mile area of ocean on the northern boundary of the last search zone, far southwest of Australia.

But Malaysia, Australia and China agree that the newly identified area is too big to justify resuming the publicly funded search, which has already cost $160 million.

Australia has coordinated the search on Malaysia's behalf because Flight 370 crashed in Australia's zone of search and rescue responsibility. It came down on March 8, 2014, after flying far off course on a journey from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

Transport Minister Darren Chester declined to comment on the possibility of a private search.

"Malaysia, as the state of registry for the aircraft, retains overall authority for any future search and any questions regarding possible future search efforts should be directed there," his office said in a statement.

"Australia stands ready to assist the Malaysian government in any way it can," it added.