Australia says no time limit on hunt for Malaysia Airlines jet

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No time limit will be imposed on the search for MH370 because the world deserves to know what happened, Australian premier Tony Abbott said on Monday, as a ship equipped to locate the plane’s “black box” prepared to set sail.

The hunt for physical evidence that the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in the Indian Ocean more than three weeks ago has turned up nothing, despite a massive operation involving seven countries and repeated sightings of suspected debris.

Experts warn hard evidence must be found first to narrow down a search zone in order for the US-supplied black box detector to be effective.

Abbott said the search across an expanse of ocean the size of Norway would continue for as long as necessary to track down the Boeing 777, which was carrying 239 people when it vanished on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

“I’m certainly not putting a time limit on it… We can keep searching for quite some time to come,” Abbott told reporters at the Perth military base coordinating the operation.

“We owe it to the families, we owe it to everyone that travels by air, we owe it to the anxious governments of the countries who had people on that aircraft. We owe it to the wider world which has been transfixed by this mystery for three weeks now.”

More than a dozen Chinese relatives of those aboard the ill-fated plane — part of a group of nearly 30 who arrived in Malaysia to press authorities for answers — kept up the pressure on Monday during a visit to a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Wearing T-shirts that read “MH370 come back safely” in Mandarin, they lit candles and left flowers at the temple in an hour-long prayer session for loved ones. But their anger at Malaysia’s handling of the crisis still smouldered.