News

MH370 search to drag on for 8 months, cost $55M

MH370 search to drag on for 8 months, cost $55M

SEARCH GOES ON:A man walks past graffiti of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur April 15. Photo: Reuters/Samsul Said

By Matt Siegel

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

The search effort for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing 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.

He 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.

Malaysia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Britain and the United States are assisting Australia in conducting the most expensive search in aviation history.

It remains unclear what caused the Boeing 777 to veer sharply off its course and disappear from radar as it prepared to cross into Vietnamese airspace.

Malaysian authorities have still not ruled out mechanical problems, but say evidence suggests it was deliberately diverted from its scheduled route.

Malaysia is under pressure to bring closure to the grieving families by finding wreckage to determine definitively what happened to the aircraft.

But the empty expanse of water northwest of the Australian city of Perth is one of the most remote places in the world and also one of the deepest, making the search complicated.

Authorities had been focusing on a 6.2 square mile stretch of seabed about 2,000 miles from Perth, after detecting what they suspected was a signal from the plane’s black box recorder on April 4.

The U.S. Navy Bluefin-21 underwater drone searching the seabed has so far failed to turn up any sign of the plane.

“We are still baffled and disappointed that we haven’t been able to find undersea wreckage based on those detections,” Abbott told reporters.

Abbott said that the new search area, which spans 435 miles by 40 miles, could take between 6-8 months to completely examine, at a cost to Australia of as much as $55.69 million.

The search operations have up until now been handled primarily as a military operation by the countries involved, but Abbott said that one or more commercial companies would be hired by Australia and Malaysia to handle the next phase.

Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search effort, offered a sobering assessment of the operation.

“We haven’t found anything anywhere that has any connection to MH370,” Houston said during the Abbott news conference. ($1 = 1.0774 Australian Dollars)

(Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Michael Perry)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Craig Counsell replaces Ron Roenicke with Milwaukee Brewers

Fresh
FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2015, file photo, former Milwaukee Brewers’ Craig Counsell throws during a spring training baseball workout in Phoenix. Counsell was hired as manager of the Brewers on Monday, May 4, 2015, replacing Ron Roenicke who was fired the night before.

The Brewers fired manager Ron Roenicke and replaced him with former Milwaukee infielder Craig Counsell.

in Sports

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry wins NBA MVP

Fresh
Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry points after making a three pointer while drawing a foul against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 31, 2015, in Los Angeles.

Stephen Curry beats out Houston's James Harden for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award.

in Lifestyle

60 years on Las Vegas Strip, Riviera closes

Fresh
This Feb. 16, 2015 photo shows the Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Owners of the hotel which opened in 1955 have agreed to sell the property to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The tourism agency confirmed the potential purchase Tuesday, Feb. 17 after days of not commenting on rumors of a deal.

The aging Riviera Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip is expected to close its doors at noon.

in Entertainment

Annie Leibovitz snaps ‘Star Wars’ cast

Fresh
Star Wars Force Awakens

See the new photos of the upcoming "Star Wars" film, shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

in Entertainment, Lifestyle, World

Britain’s newborn princess has been named

Britain's Prince William, right, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, pose for the media with their newborn daughter outside St. Mary's Hospital's exclusive Lindo Wing, London, Saturday, May 2, 2015. The Duchess gave birth to the Princess on Saturday morning.

Britain's newborn princess has been named Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.