Aus PM says ‘no time limit’ for plane search; leads draw blank
Perth: There is no time limit on resolving the “extraordinary mystery” of the missing Malaysian jet, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said today, even as the latest leads on possible plane debris turned out to be false alarms.
Bad weather conditions today forced the Australia-led search team to suspend operations for locating the debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean.
The search had been intensified today with 10 aircraft and 10 ships combing 254,000 sq km area.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the orange objects spotted by a plane have turned out to be nothing more than fishing equipment.
The objects had been analysed and spokesman Jesse Platts said “they have nothing to do with the missing flight.”
“We can keep searching for quite some time to come and we will keep searching for quite some time to come. I’m certainly not putting a time limit on it,” Abbott told reporters at the Perth’s Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base Pearce.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult exercise…we are searching a vast area of ocean and we are working on quite limited information,” he said
Appreciating the contribution of those who were involved in the search operation, Abbott said the “best brains in the world” are on the task but until any wreckage was found, authorities will have to keep relying on “guesstimates”.
“All of the technological mastery that we have is being applied. So if this mystery is solvable, we will solve it,” he said, adding “But I don’t want to underestimate just how difficult it is”.
“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,” Abbott said.
There have been a number of sightings in the new area about 1,100 km northeast of the previous search zone which was changed after radar data showed the plane had been traveling faster that previously thought, thus burning more fuel.
Search crews from various nations have found an array of potential leads, only to later shoot down any links to the missing plane. They have included dead jelly fish and other garbage floating in the southern Indian Ocean.
The Beijing-bound jetliner – carrying 239 people, including five Indians, an Indo-Canadian and 154 Chinese nationals – had vanished 23 days ago after taking off from Kuala Lumpur and crashed in the remote southern Indian Ocean.
Abbott said, “It demonstrates that in a humanitarian cause, the nations of this region can come together to work for the betterment of humanity, can work to try to resolve this extraordinary mystery, can work to try to bring peace and closure to the families of the 239 people on board that ill-fated aircraft.”