Nearly six months after the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 mysteriously disappeared; the search for the doomed airliner has entered yet another twist with the Australian authority saying on Thursday that the search effort will now focus on the southern part of the existing search zone.
The twist – that appears to be one of many irregularities that the search for the ill-fated fight has gone through – came after new information suggested that the flight might have turned south "earlier than previously thought", authorities have said.
The new detail came after "further refinement" of Satellite data and as investigators tried to map the location of the plane during a failed attempt to contact it earlier in its flight path, Australian deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said.
The failed satellite telephone conversation with the aircraft "has suggested to us that the aircraft may have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected," News.com.au quoted him as saying.
"The search area remains the same, but some of the information that we now have suggests to us that area a little further to the south – within the search area, but a little further to the south – are of particular interest and priority in the search area," he said.
His comments came as Australia and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding in Canberra over the next phase of the hunt for the missing aircraft, which disappeared in the wee hours of 8 March with 239 people on board.
Malaysia's Transport Minister has said that his country had agreed to split the cost of the tender for the deep underwater search with Australia. This comes after Australia announced last month that a Dutch company Furgo was awarded a contract to scour the ocean floor for the plane's wreckage.
The operation, which will begin next month, is expected to be completed within a year and will cost (Aus) $52 million, newspapers have reported.
The disappearance of the jet has been dubbed as the biggest aviation mystery of the century, after it simply vanished into thin air, without any trace, somewhere over the airspace between Malaysia and Vietnam while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
After analysing a set of 'pings' the aircraft inadvertently sent to a satellite system, investigators said the plane may have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean far off the west coast of Australia.
Six months of rigorous search, however, has found no trace of the ill-fated wide-bodied Boeing 777.