Transport Ministers from Australia, China and Malaysia have confirmed they will suspend the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 once the 120,000 sq. km priority area has been swept. Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Friday bad weather meant that the search of the final 10,000 sq. kms of the priority area was now not likely to be completed until October and could possibly extend to December. Mr Liow said cost was not a factor in deciding to suspend the search and investigators would continue to analyse the data they had collected looking for “new credible evidence’’. He did not define what such evidence might be but said that if it did emerge, the governments would look at whether to resume the search. The search must go on Mr Liow also defended the search area, saying there was no evidence to indicate the search was being conducted in the wrong place. Drift patterns of he debris that had been found indicated the search was in the right area “We are confident we are looking in the right area,’’ he said, noting that it was based on expert views from the Australian, US and UK investigation branches as well as companies such as Thales and Boeing. Asked about suggestions by a member of the investigation team that the aircraft had landed in a controlled ditching, Mr Liow said there was no evidence confirming that was the case. He admitted that a flaperon found a year ago was still under the control of the French Government and the Malaysians had not been given details of findings on the wing component. The Ministers had not been briefed on whether the flaperon had indicated a controlled ditching, he said. “This is under the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) investigation team,’’ he said. “That is the independent investigation team handling this investigation and they have been keeping in touch with the French Government to retrieve the information. So they have faced some issues in terms of getting the details from Boeing and also from the US Government.’’ Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said the decision to suspend the search after sweeping the priority are was not taken lightly and he emphasised work was continuing in analysing the data. “We have been mindful that any future search needs to have a high likelihood of success to justify raising the hopes of family and friends,’’ he said. “I want to impress upon the families the enormous task that has been undertaken over the last two and a half years and assure them that every effort has been made to locate the aircraft. “We have used the best science available, cutting edge technology, as well as highly skilled professionals who are the best in their field.’’ Mr Chester noted media commentary about whether the priority search area was the correct but said he would not be second-guessing the experts. “This decision was based on what we know from the last satellite communications with the aircraft,’’ he said. “This information shows the aircraft was in a high rate of descent, so we believe the aircraft will be located somewhere near what is known as the 7th arc. “We remain hopeful that we will still locate the aircraft in the remaining priority area, but if we don’t I hope that new information will come to light and that the aircraft will be located.’’ A joint communique from Mr Liow, Mr Chester and their Chinese counterpart, Yang Chuantang, said attention during the update was particularly focused on delays to the search as a result of damaged equipment and recent poor weather, as well as discussion about the discovery of aircraft debris and what it meant in relation to search efforts and the investigation The communique noted that none of the debris had provided information that positively identified the precise location of the aircraft. “With less than 10,000 square kilometres of the high priority search area remaining to be searched, Ministers acknowledged that despite the best efforts of all involved, the likelihood of finding the aircraft is fading,’’ the communique said.