Malaysian airliner search enters 'new phase'

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Malaysian airliner search enters 'new phase'

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The Australian prime minister has launched a new phase in in the hunt for the missing Malaysian airliner.

Now additional underwater equipment is to be deployed and all air searches are to be cancelled.

The intensified operation in the ocean depths could take at least six to eight months for wreckage of the jet which disappeared with 239 people on board on March 8.

“It is highly unlikely, at this stage, that we will find any aircraft debris on the surface. By this stage, 52 days into the search, most material would have become water logged and sunk,” Tony Abbott, Australian Prime Minister told reporters.

The switch from the air to the unmanned probe will cost around 40 million euros and need to cover an estimated area of more than 30,000 square kilometres.

The failure to find any evidence on the surface, said the Australian prime minister was disappointing and baffling and he admitted the plane may never be found.