Australia to spend $84 million on Malaysian jet search


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government plans to spend 90 million Australian dollars ($84 million) on the search for the missing Malaysian plane.

Australia is leading the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which is thought to have disappeared in the Indian Ocean with 239 people aboard on March 8. Budget documents released Tuesday showed that the government has budgeted AU$90 million for the search in the current fiscal year through June and next fiscal year.

“The actual cost will depend on a number of factors, including the outcome of procurement processes for specialist services, the length of the search and the extent of contributions from other countries,” the documents said.

Countries involved in a multinational air and sea search based in the western city of Perth covered their own costs.

But the search is moving into a second phase in which commercial underwater operators will be contracted to scour a vast expanse of sea bed with sonar equipment looking for wreckage. That phase is expected to start next month and continue for eight to 12 months.

The documents put no limit on what Australia is prepared to spend.