World Bulletin / News Desk
According to an operational report released Wednesday, the search of 120,000 sq km (46332 sq miles) of the southern Indian Ocean continues to be hampered by bad weather.
The hunt -- coordinated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau -- was originally intended to be completed by mid-2016, but the report said the search of the remaining less than 10,000 sq km of the area will now be completed "around January/February 2017".
The report underlined, however, that next year's completion does not necessarily mean the termination of the search.
"Should credible new information emerge that can be used to identify the specific location of the aircraft, consideration will be given to determining next steps," it said.
It added that although progress may seem slow, "work is continuing and is aimed at finding MH370 as quickly as possible."
Flight MH370 -- carrying 239 passengers and crew -- disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on route to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
The search and rescue mission -- which began immediately after -- involved some 160 assets as well as experts from 25 countries.
To-date, at least six pieces of aircraft debris found along Africa’s east coast have been confirmed as “almost certainly” coming from MH370.
After 10 months of intensive undersea search for the vanished flight, on Jan. 29 2015 Malaysia declared that MH370 was lost in an accident, killing all passengers.