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Australia: End 'Not In Sight' For MH370 Ocean Debris Search

Image: A chart detailing the search area for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 21
A chart detailing the search area for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on March 21.Australian Maritime Safety Authority

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Australia promised to “exhaust every possible option” in the hunt for possible debris from missing Flight 370 Saturday, warning that the end of the operation to search a remote corner of the southern Indian Ocean was “not in sight.”

As the “intensive” air and sea search entered its third day, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said that satellite imagery was still “the most promising lead that's available” to investigators – but he cautioned that the objects could turn out to be ocean junk.

“There is a lot of ocean debris floating around the globe continuously and containers do fall off ships and so there are any other no of potential explanation as to what these items actually are,” he told reporters at a military air base in Perth, western Australia.

“It's probably more solid than any other lead around the world and that's why so much interest is being put into this search.”

New areas were being searched Saturday as a result of information about how the objects might have been moved by ocean drift, Truss said.

The objects were spotted early Thursday during analysis of satellite images of the ocean captured on Sunday – a delay which Truss said made the search “particularly difficult” because the objects are likely to have moved a “significant distance as a result of currents and winds.”

It's also possible of course that they've also drifted to the bottom of the ocean bed, the ocean in this area is between three and five kilometers [1.5 – 3 miles] deep, so it's a very deep part of the ocean, very deep and very remote.”

Despite the advanced technology on board the military aircraft involved, most of the searching was being done by the human eye, Truss said.

“What we need to do is to exhaust every possible option. We intend to continue the search until we're absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile,” he said. “And that day is not in sight.”

Alastair Jamieson and Rebekah Smyth

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