Perth: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today said it was now “highly unlikely” that any debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will be found on the ocean surface, as he announced a more intensive underwater search expanding to new areas that may take up to eight months.
Describing the hunt as “probably the most difficult search in human history”, Abbott said the search for the missing flight MH370 will be entering a new phase that will use private contractors and may cost about USD 60 million.
“I regret to say that thus far none of our efforts in the air, on the surface or under sea, have found any wreckage,” he said in Canberra.
“By this stage, 52 days into the search, most material would have become water-logged and sunk,” he said, adding that it is now “highly unlikely” that any debris will be located 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,” Abbott said.
The new phase will focus on searching the ocean floor over a much larger area - 60,000 square kilometers, a process that will take about six to eight months.
“While the search will be moving to a new phase in coming weeks, it certainly is not ending,” he said, adding Australia will continue to do what it can to find the missing plane.