MH370: Search to be widened

April 28, 2014

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will now move to a new full scale under-water phase.
Mr Abbott said: “I am now required to say to you that it is highly unlikely at this stage that we will find any aircraft debris on the ocean surface.”
“We are moving from the current phase to a phase which is focused on searching the ocean floor over a much larger area.”
The wider search area is 700 kms long and 80 kms wide and may take over eight months to scour and covers 56,000sq kms.
That wider era will also encompass seabed that is 6000m deep.
So far the Bluefin 21 submersible has searched 400 square kms of the ocean seabed.
“This is probably the most difficult search in human history,” he said.
However Mr Abbott stressed that Australia is not giving up and suggested that the cost of the wider undersea search to Australia could top $60 million.
Australia is inviting private specialist contractors to bid for the wider search.
Joint Agency Coordination Centre head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said he was still confident of the search area.
“I think we’re in the right area,” he said.
Asked if the plane will be found Mr Abbott conceded it may not.
“Of course that’s possible but that would be a terrible outcome.”
The Australian PM said while he was disappointed nothing had been discovered he said Australia would not shirk its responsibilities.
“We’We’re still baffled and disappointed that we haven’t been able to find undersea wreckage,” said Mr Abbott.
“I want the world to know that Australia will not shirk its responsibility in this area.”
“We will do everything we humanly can, everything we reasonably can to solve this mystery. We will not let people down.”
Since the Australia took over the search 41 days ago more than four-and-a-half million square kilometres of ocean has been searched. There have been 334 search flights conducted at an average of eight a day, for a total of more than 3000 hours.
These searches have involved 10 civil planes with 19 military from Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.
Also 14 ships from Australia, China and the United Kingdom and United States have been involved.