Air search for missing Malaysian plane ends, underwater search widened

By Kyle Johnson,

Australian officials say that there will no longer be an aerial search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, but the underwater search has been expanded.

Searching by air would be futile effort now, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday, as "by this stage, 52 days into the search, most material would have become waterlogged and sunk."

According to The Associated Press, nothing of Flight 370 has been discovered on the ocean surface, but the underwater search is gearing up to explore even more of the ocean, a new expanded process that could take eight months.

Abbott said, "we are moving from the current phase to a phase which is focused on searching the ocean flor over a much larger area."

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new search area about 23,000 square miles, or roughly the size of West Virginia. The search will also be in areas where the depth can go over 5,000 to 7,000 meters, meaning that the currently used Bluefin-21 underwater drone will no longer be of much use since it cannot go much deeper than 4,500 meters.

The search, if it does take all eight months, would cost about $56 million, of which Australia, Malaysia and China would help cover the cost.



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