Friday 26 December 2014

Chance of finding MH370 debris 'highly unlikely' - Australian PM

Search for missing Malaysia plane enters new phase

Matt Siegel

Published 28/04/2014 | 06:42

A USNS Cesar Chavez's helicopter, a Super Puma, carries supplies next to ships Australian Navy ships HMAS Success as they conduct a Replenishment at Sea with United States Navy Ship (USNS) Cesar Chavez (not pictured) in the southern Indian Ocean as they continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in this handpout picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 15, 2014. A U.S. Navy underwater drone sent to search for a missing Malaysian jetliner on the floor of the Indian Ocean had its first mission cut short after exceeding its 4.5 km (2.8 mile) depth limit, Australian search authorities said on Tuesday.The launch of the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle on Monday marked a new phase in the six week search for Malaysia Airlines MH370 which disappeared on March 8 and is presumed to have crashed thousands of kilometres (miles) off course with the loss of all 239 people on board.   REUTERS/Australian Defence Force/Handout via Reuters  (MID-SEA - Tags: DISASTER MARITIME TRANSPORT SOCIETY MILITARY)

ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES
A USNS Cesar Chavez's helicopter, a Super Puma, carries supplies next to ships Australian Navy ships HMAS Success as they conduct a Replenishment at Sea with United States Navy Ship (USNS) Cesar Chavez (not pictured) in the southern Indian Ocean as they continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
Flight officer Rayan Gharazeddine, on board a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion, searches for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean (AP)
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 gestures as she shouts at Malaysian representatives during a briefing at Lido Hotel in Beijing earlier this week
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 gestures as she shouts at Malaysian representatives during a briefing at Lido Hotel in Beijing. Reuters
Boatswain's Mate, Able Seaman Morgan Macdonald observes markers dropped from a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3K Orion during the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is carried by medical personnel and policemen after collapsing during a briefing Lido Hotel in Beijing. Reuters
Manhunt: HMS Echo is among the ships searching for plane. Photo: PA
Manhunt: HMS Echo is among the ships searching for plane. Photo: PA
A father whose son was aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, cries as he asks a question during a briefing given by Malaysian representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing
Malaysia's Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin updates the media (AP)
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pray at a hotel conference room in Beijing (AP)
A US Navy deep-sea vehicle (AUV) is scouring a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean floor for signs of the aircraft

The chance of finding floating debris from a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner has become highly unlikely, and a new phase of the search would focus on a far larger area of the Indian Ocean floor, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said.

The international search effort for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, has so far failed to turn up any trace of wreckage from the plane.

Given the amount of time that has elapsed, Abbott said that efforts would now shift away from the visual searches conducted by planes and ships and towards underwater equipment capable of scouring the ocean floor with sophisticated sensors.

Abbott admitted, however, that it was possible nothing would ever be found of the jetliner.

"We will do everything we humanly can, everything we reasonably can, to solve this mystery," he told reporters in Canberra.

Authorities had focussed their search on a 10 square km (6.2 square mile) stretch of seabed about 2,000 miles northwest of Perth after detecting what they suspected was a signal from the plane's black box recorder on April 4.

But Abbott's comments appeared to be an acknowledgement that the search by a U.S. Navy Bluefin-21 underwater drone in that refined area had failed find any sign of the jetliner.

Abbott said that the new search area, which spans 700 km by 80 km, could take between 6-8 months to completely examine

Reuters

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