PERTH, Australia: Australia’s deputy prime minister on Saturday said the search for Malaysian Flight MH370 would continue “indefinitely”, insisting satellite images of two objects were still the best lead so far.
Australia is coordinating the hunt in the vast southern search corridor for the jet carrying 239 people that vanished two weeks ago, focusing for a third day on an area of wild and remote sea 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth.
Despite 15 sorties by Australian, American and New Zealand surveillance aircraft, nothing has been sighted in the desolate area since Canberra announced on Thursday that two objects had spotted in the southern Indian Ocean that could be related to the plane.
Six planes are involved in the search Saturday and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said they had drawn a blank so far, but insisted it was not a futile exercise in such a vast and distant area.
“It is a very remote area but we intend to continue the search until we are absolutely satisfied that further searching would be futile and that day is not in sight,” he said outside the Pearce Air Force base in Perth where the planes are flying from.
“We will continue to liaise with our international allies but at this stage we are planning to continue indefinitely, although I recognize that there will come a time that when nothing is discovered a further appraisal will have to be made.”
“But we are not even thinking about that at the present time,” he added.
“There’s no information that would lead us to not want to continue this search.”
Truss added that the search effort would be boosted on Sunday with the arrival of two Chinese planes and Japanese jets would join the hunt on Monday or Tuesday.
Since Prime Minister Tony Abbott made an announcement to parliament on Thursday about the indistinct objects shown on satellite imagery, Canberra has been making an effort to downplay expectations of a breakthrough.
Truss again cautioned that the objects may not be related to MH370.
“There is a lot of ocean debris floating around the globe continually and containers do fall off ships so there is any number of other potential explanations to what these items actually are,” he said.
“But those who have done the technical analysis believe they are of interest in relation to this disappearance.
“Even though this is not a definite lead it is probably more solid than any other lead around the world and that is why so much effort and interest is being put into this search.”