Search for missing Malaysian flight to take years


The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is likely to drag on for years, a senior U.S defense official said on 25-04-2014 Friday, as an underwater search for any trace of the plane's wreckage off west Australia appeared to have failed.

The official, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to comment on the search effort, said two weeks of scouring the Indian Ocean floor with a U.S. Navy submersible drone had turned up no wreckage.

He said the search for the jetliner, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board, would now enter a much harder phase of scouring broader areas of the ocean near where the plane is believed to have crashed. "We went all in on this small area and didn't find anything. Now you've got to go back to the big area," the official told Reuters.  "And now you're talking years."

The undersea drone Bluefin-21 is expected on 25-04-204 Friday to finish what may be the last of its 16-hour trips to depths of more than 4.5km (2.8 miles), searching a 10 square km (6.2 square mile) patch of seabed about 3,200 km (2,000 miles) northwest of the Australian city of Perth.

Australian search officials said that despite it having completed 95 percent of its target search are, the remote controlled submarine had failed to turn up any sign of the plane. Authorities had identified the area as their strongest lead in determining the plane's final resting place after detecting what they suspected was a signal, or "ping", from the plane's black box recorder on April 4.

Although the most promising efforts have been focused underwater, the air and surface search continued on Friday with up to eight military aircraft and 10 ships working on visual searches of an area of about 49,000 square km (19,000 square miles).

But the U.S. official said Malaysia would now have to decide how to proceed, including whether to bring in more underwater drones, even with the understanding that the search could continue for years without a refined search area.



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