The search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an international operation that has been ongoing since 2014, may soon come to a conclusion.
According to The Guardian, aviation officials from China, Malaysia, and Australia are meeting on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the future of the search. Around 15,000 sq km (around 5,800 sq mi) of the southern Indian Ocean is still left to search.
The three countries had agreed before that, assuming the search did not reveal any new, credible information, that the operation would conclude once the entire 120,000 sq km (over 46,000 sq mi) zone had been searched.
“We now expect the search will conclude in the next eight weeks,” Darren Chester, Australian transport minister, said. “I remain hopeful of a successful outcome.”
However, Malaysian transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said in May that the search should be increased along the coast of Africa, where parts have been found washed up on the shore. During the operation, debris has been found in a variety of places, including Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Australia.
The meetings this week will precede one more ministerial meeting, set to take place after Australia’s July 2 election. Should the election lead to a change of government, it would fall to Chester’s successor to help lead the effort to finish the search.
Despite best efforts, it’s still unclear what exactly happened to MH370. The lack of information surrounding the flight disappearance has led to a vacuum, encouraging conspiracy theories around what may have happened to the plane. Psychologist Rob Brotherton told Inverse in November that in these instances, people are drawn to assume that ambiguous events have purpose to them through the intentionality bias.
“Rather than just assuming it was an accident or malfunction or something like that, we are drawn to assuming that somebody wanted it to happen,” Brotherton said.