The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has resumed, a year after the largest search in aviation history was suspended. (Pix by MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

PUTRAJAYA: The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has resumed, a year after the largest search in aviation history was suspended.

The Malaysian government and United States-based exploration firm Ocean Infinity Limited, today inked a deal to officially continue the search for the missing jet.

The agreement was signed by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman and Ocean Infinity Limited chief executive officer Oliver Plunkett.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the search operations will commence in a new search area of 25,000 square kilometre (sqkm) of the Indian Ocean by mid January.

"The deal is on a "no cure, no fee" whereby debris found within the first 5,000 sq km will be paid US$20 million (RM82 million), for the subsequent 10,000 sq km, a sum of US$ 30 million (RM122 million) will be paid, for another 10,000 sqkm, US$50 million (RM204 million) will be paid.

"Beyond that area, Ocean Infinity will be paid a total of USD70 million (RM280 million), however the search must be completed within a 90-day time frame.

"The payment for the search will be borne by the Malaysian government," he added.

He said the primary mission of Ocean Infinity is to identify the location of the wreckage or the debris field and or the black box recorders; Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR).

"They are to present a considerable and credible evidence to confirm the exact location of the items," he added.

The Norwegian research vessel known as the Seabed Constructor is already on its way to the area identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) as the most likely crash site.

"As we speak, the vessel is currently on her way to the search area, taking advantage of the favourable weather condition in the South Indian Ocean.

"We have on-board 65 crew including two officers from the Royal Malaysian Navy as the representatives of the Malaysian government," he added.

Malaysia, Australian and the Chinese government had unanimously agreed and ended the search of MH370 in January last year.

The Ocean Infinity, Liow said, will directly report to the MH370 Response Team headed by Azharuddin, Transport Ministry, Foreign Ministry and Communications and Multimedia Ministry officials, on the outcome of the search from time to time.

"Other agencies such as the police and the Attorney General's Chambers will be monitoring the works done by Ocean Infinity via an operation room established within DCA premises.

"The team will be updating the families of those on board MH370 via text messages and email as well as updated information on the MH370 official website.

On March 8, 2014, flight MH370 with 239 people on board mostly Chinese nationals, had dropped off radar shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, sparking a massive underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean.

The incident is said to be one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

After spending more than three years, scouring 120,000 sqkm of the Indian Ocean, only three fragments of MH370 have been found.

The fragments that washed up on western Indian Ocean shores included a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon.

Meanwhile, Liow said he had notified the next-of-kins of the MH370 of the new operation.

"We have discussed with them on the new search and they have accepted it well.

"We hope that this time, we would be able to find the wreckage to give some closure to the families," he said adding that expert had said that there are 85 per cent probability of finding the aircraft in the new search area.

A next-of-kin, Shin Kok Chau who was present today thanked the Malaysian government for not losing hope of finding the missing jet.

"I would like to thank Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the Transport Minister and all the agencies involved in the new search of MH370 and for the last four years

"This is news came a relief to me and my family. I hope this operation team will be able to find something to give us some closure," said the 42-year-old husband of MH370 victime, Tan Ser Kuin.

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