MH370: Searchers are operating on 'guesstimates', says Australia PM

MH370: Searchers are operating on 'guesstimates', says Australia PM

SYDNEY - Another frustrating day passed in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 as orange objects seen in the water turned out to be fishing gear on Monday.

The objects spotted by a search plane on Sunday were described as a promising lead, but when ships pulled them from the southern Indian Ocean, hopes for a breakthrough were once again dashed.

"Yesterday's finds were nothing of note, nothing related to the plane," an Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman said.

Ten planes and 10 ships from seven nations continued the search 1,800 kilometres west of Perth in a race against time before the beacon from the plane's flight recorders expires around April 7.

A special US Navy underwater signal detector has been fitted to an Australian ship, but without a clear search area the device has slimchances, as it can troll at only 5 kilometres per hour.

In Washington, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel said Monday at the Pentagon that the US-provided equipment has "tremendous capability" but would be more effective in a smaller search area.

"We have provided, as far as I know, everything the Malaysian government has requested of us," He said. Australians authorities have "the lead" on the search and were"really doing quite a good job.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said earlier that authorities owe it to relatives of the 239 passengers and crew to keep up the search."I'm certainly not putting a time limit on it," he said.

"This is an extraordinarily difficult exercise, we are searching a vast area of ocean, and we are working on a quite limited information.

"Searchers are operating on guesstimates," Abbot said, with no choice but to continue searching "until we locate some actual wreckage fromthe aircraft and then do the regression analysis that might tell uswhere the aircraft went into the ocean.

"Malaysia continues to hold primary responsibility for the recovery operation and investigation into why the plane apparently made a radical change of course toward the Indian Ocean during a March 8 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will travel Wednesday to Perth to visit the Australian Air Force base where planes embark on their 12-hour search missions and discuss the coordination of the effort with operational officials, his office said.

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