CANBERRA, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Australia announced on Thursday a new search area for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
The area will be the focus of future search efforts and is based on the findings of an expert satellite working group.
The group has reviewed all existing information to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometers along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean.
Australia's deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, said the refined search area would still be focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite.
But the search would shift to an area further south along the arc based on the calculations of the international experts.
"Specialists have analyzed satellite communications information -- information which was never initially intended to have the capability to track an aircraft -- and performed extremely complex calculations," Truss told a press conference here at the Parliament House.
The search for MH370 was ongoing, with a three-month mapping of the ocean floor in the search area to be followed by a comprehensive search of the sea floor, he said.
"The bathymetric survey has already commenced, with the Chinese survey ship Zhu Kezhen and the Australian-contracted vessel Fugro Equator conducting operations in the areas provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau," he said.
"The underwater search will aim to locate the aircraft and any evidence to assist with the Malaysian investigation of the disappearance of MH370."
Truss said it is highly likely that the aircraft was on auto- pilot when it entered the water.
Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Board who was also at the press conference, also said data of the first to seventh arc are consistent to an auto-pilot scenario.
It is expected that the underwater search will begin in August and take up to 12 months to complete.
Malaysia and Australia are developing a memorandum of understanding to determine the areas of cooperation in the search and recovery activities, including financial arrangements.
Australia, Malaysia and China have reaffirmed their commitment to continue to search for MH370 and to keep families informed of developments.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared on March 8 after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.
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