Jet Search Enters Daunting New Phase

Private firms will search massively expanded area
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2014 2:15 AM CDT
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, left, looks on as retired Chief Air Marshall Angus Houston, the head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center, speaks to the media during a press conference today.   (AP Photo/AAP Image, Lukas Coch)
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(Newser) – After failing to find any wreckage in the area where pings had been located, the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is entering a daunting and time-consuming new phase, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says. After 52 days of searching, Abbott says officials are "baffled and disappointed" that nothing has been found, reports the Los Angeles Times. The undersea search area will now be expanded to a much larger area covering around 21,000 square miles; that's roughly the size of West Virginia.

Private companies will be hired to help search the expanded area of the Indian Ocean floor, says Abbott, who predicts the new underwater search will take up to eight months and cost $55 million (compared to the two weeks it took to search the initial undersea area). He said that the search for debris on the surface using planes and ships will now come to an end, since any wreckage from the missing jet is probably now "waterlogged and sunk," reports the Washington Post, which notes that the size of the new search area casts doubt on the chances of ever solving the mystery.

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