By ABC NEWS
The weekslong search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is "an extraordinarily difficult exercise" but it will go on as long as possible, Australia's prime minister said Monday.
Tony Abbott told reporters in Perth, the base for the search, that although no debris has been found in the southern Indian Ocean that can be linked to the plane, searchers are "well, well short" of any point where they would scale the hunt back.
"If this mystery is solvable, we will solve it," Abbott said.
Authorities remain focused on finding wreckage from the missing plane, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said 10 aircraft and 10 ships are participating in today’s search, which involves an area about 1,150 west of Australia.
The Ocean Shield, an Australian warship which is carrying a U.S. device that detects “pings” from the “black box” flight recorders, is scheduled to leave Perth today for the search zone. More than three weeks have passed since the plane disappeared, leaving about a week of battery life for the black box “pingers,” which can be detected from a few miles away.
Some parts of the search area should experience low clouds and rain today, AMSA officials said.
As the search for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner stretches into a fourth week, Abbott said he was not putting a time limit on the search.
“We owe it to everyone to do whatever we reasonably can and we can keep searching for quite some time to come ... and, as I said, the intensity of our search and the magnitude of operations is increasing, not decreasing,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.