Malaysia said the search area for the missing Flight 370 would be expanded by another 60,000 sq km in the Indian Ocean if the jetliner was not found by May. Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Malaysia, Australia and China, which are leading the search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 last year, were "committed to the search". He told reporters after meeting with his counterparts from the other two countries that so far 61 per cent of the current 60,000km search area had 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 60,000 sq km, we have collectively decided to extend the search to another 60,000 sq km within the highest probability area," he said. However, the searchers were hopeful they could find the plane in the current search area, he said. Liow said the two areas together would cover 95 per cent of the flight path of the plane, which went missing while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. Most of the passengers were Chinese. The plane dropped off the radar, and investigators using satellite data 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," Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss 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." He said Malaysia and Australia would continue to fund the cost of the search. He or the other ministers did now say how much it would cost. "Australia and Malaysia have been sharing the cost and we will continue to do that," he said. "We are confident we will be able to fund whatever is necessary." In the first phase, a total of A$120 million (HK$708 million) was spent by the two countries, split equally, and Liow said the next phase was estimated to cost A$50 million. The next phase will cost less because the equipment has already been purchased. The two ministers said they expected the second phase of the search to take the rest of this year. But the search is likely to be hindered by bad weather as winter sets in soon in the southern hemisphere, where seasons are opposite that of the northern hemisphere. In late January this year, Malaysia's government formally declared the plane's disappearance an accident and said all those on board were presumed dead. A comprehensive report into the disappearance found no significant anomalies in the flight, except that the battery of the locator beacon for the plane's data recorder had expired more than a year before the jet vanished. That still does not explain what caused the plane to veer so off course in what has become aviation's biggest mystery, which continues to confound experts. Meanwhile, relatives of the dead have no closure and many still believe that their loved ones may be alive amid a host of conspiracy theories, which include the claim that the plane was hijacked and landed somewhere safely.