No time limit on search for plane, official says
Although it has been slow, difficult and frustrating so far, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is nowhere near the point of being scaled back, Australia’s prime minister pledged Monday.
The three-week hunt for Flight 370 has turned up no sign of the Boeing 777, which vanished March 8 with 239 people bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Ten planes and 11 ships found no sign of the missing plane in the search zone in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1,150 miles west of Australia, officials said.
The search area has evolved as experts analyzed Flight 370’s limited radar and satellite data, moving from the seas off Vietnam, to the waters west of Malaysia and Indonesia, and then to several areas west of Australia. The search zone now is 98,000 square miles, about a 21/2-hour flight from Perth.
Items recovered so far were discovered to be flotsam unrelated to the Malaysian plane. Several orange-colored objects spotted by plane Sunday turned out to be fishing equipment.
Those leading the effort remain undaunted, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott saying officials are “well, well short” of any point where they would scale back the hunt. In fact, he said the intensity and magnitude of operations “is increasing, not decreasing.”
“I’m certainly not putting a time limit on it. ... We can keep searching for quite some time to come,” Abbott said at RAAF Pearce, the Perth military base coordinating the operation.
“We owe it to the families, we owe it to everyone that travels by air. We owe it to the anxious governments of the countries who had people on that aircraft. We owe it to the wider world, which has been transfixed by this mystery for three weeks now,” he said.
“If this mystery is solvable, we will solve it,” Abbott said.
On Monday, former Australian defense chief Angus Houston began his role of heading the new Joint Agency Coordination Center, which will oversee communication with international agencies involved in the search.
The center said today’s search would focus on a much smaller 25,087 square miles of ocean west of Perth, with poor weather and low visibility forecast.