Search and rescue experts are “throwing everything” at the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Australia’s prime minister said Friday.
"If there is anything down there, we will find it," Tony Abbott told reporters as a multinational air and sea mission focused on the remote southern Indian Ocean. “We owe it to the families of those people [on board] to do no less."
But a second day of searching the zone ended without success Friday, with none of the five military aircraft involved in the hunt confirming any sighting of debris.
Abbott described the area being searched as "about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the earth."
The zone at the center of the hunt is about 1,400 miles - and four hours' flying time - southwest of Perth, Australia, limiting the amount of time that aircraft can search the waters before returning to refuel. That distance is farther than a trip between New York and Oklahoma City.
A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft was involved in the hunt for two objects that were spotted in satellite imagery and which could be debris from Flight 370.
It is not clear if the objects on the satellite images were aircraft parts or simply ocean junk such as sea containers, but investigators say the pictures are the only “credible” lead they have.
Abbott said the search area was in “an extremely remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.”
"We've been throwing everything we've got at that area to try to learn more about what this debris might be,” he added. “Now it could just be a container that's fallen off a ship. We just don't know, but we owe it to the families and the friends and loved ones of the almost 240 people on Flight MH370 to do everything we can to try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle.”
Investigators face a race against time to find the "black boxes" from the jet before batteries powering the "pings" from their transponders run out in approximately 18 days’ time.
However, one expert told NBC News on Thursday that only a handful of submersible vehicles worldwide would be capable of traveling to the bottom of that part of the Indian Ocean.
“There are parts of that area can be between two to three miles deep,” said Chari Pattiaratchi, a professor of oceanography at the University of Western Australia in Perth. "Any search there would be incredibly challenging. It could take years.”
Henry Austin and Alexander Smith of NBC News contributed to this report.
First published March 21 2014, 1:32 AM