A new expedition to search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was approved by the country’s government, officials announced Saturday, nearly four years after the unsolved disappearance.
The U.S.-based company Ocean Infinity has undertaken the task of continuing the hunt, which set off Tuesday for the southern Indian Ocean. Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the company’s offer to search for the plane debris was agreed to on the condition of "no cure, no fee,” meaning that payment will only be made if the team finds the wreckage.
"That means they are willing to search the area of 25,000 square kilometers (9,653 square miles) pointed out by the expert group near the Australian waters," he said.
Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, and was headed to Beijing when it disappeared. There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board.
Lai said his government has not wavered in its mission to find the plane, however he doesn’t want to evoke too much optimism among the victims' families.
The company’s search vessel Seabed Constructor was dispatched from the South African port of Durban on Tuesday, according to a statement from Ocean Infinity. The company said it was taking advantage of favorable weather to move the vessel “towards the vicinity of the possible search zone.” The ship has unmanned submarines that can descend deep into the ocean.
After more than 1,000 days searching, the mission was called off last January by governments in Malaysia, China and Australia without a concrete conclusion as to where or why the Boeing 777 vanished.
However, the understanding of where the plane may be is better now as a result of studying debris that washed ashore in 2015 and 2016 that showed the plane was "not configured for a ditching at the end-of-flight," meaning it had run out of fuel.
The search team also looked back at satellite imagery that showed objects in the ocean that may have been MH370 debris.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.