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Debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight may never been found, Australia's Prime Minister acknowledged Monday, but he vowed to keep looking until the mystery was solved.
"That would be a terrible outcome because it would leave families with a baffling uncertainty forever," he told reporters in the country’s capital Canberra. "The aircraft plainly cannot disappear - it must be somewhere - and we are going to do everything we reasonably can.”
Given the amount of time that has elapsed, Abbott added that efforts would now shift away from the visual searches conducted by planes and ships and toward underwater equipment capable of scouring the ocean floor with sophisticated sensors.
Commercial companies would be hired by Australia and Malaysia to handle the next phase he said, joining the U.S. Navy Bluefin-21 underwater drone that 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" he added.
Speaking at the same news conference, Angus Houston, who leads the joint agency coordinating the search far off Australia's coast, admitted they would “be doing well” if the search is completed in eight months although he said weather and technical issues could prolong the search well beyond that estimate.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.