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U.S. official: search for MH370 could take years

The search for the Boeing 777 which vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board on March 8 continues

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The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is likely to continue for years, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday, as a painstaking underwater search continues.

Meanwhile, the search for the missing jet is set to expand as a sonar scan of the most likely crash site deep beneath the Indian Ocean nears completion without yielding a single clue, authorities said on Friday.

The search area is a circle with a 10-kilometer radius 4.5 kilometers deep off the west Australian coast. The search of the target area is scheduled to be completed within days.

The Australian search coordination center said a robotic submarine had scanned 95 percent of a 310-square-kilometer search area since last week but had found nothing of interest.

The U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 is creating a three-dimensional sonar map of the ocean floor near where signals consistent with airplane black boxes were heard on April 8, according to the Associated Press.

The search area is a circle with a 10-kilometer radius 4.5 kilometers deep off the west Australian coast. The search of the target area is scheduled to be completed within days.

Continued examination

“If no contacts of interest are made, Bluefin 21 will continue to examine the areas adjacent to the 10-kilometer radius,” the center said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

“We are currently consulting very closely with our international partners on the best way to continue the search into the future,” it added, referring to Malaysia, United States and China.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told CNN on Thursday that his government will release a preliminary report on the plane’s disappearance next week.

The report has already been sent to the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization, but has yet to be made available to the public, CNN reported.

Australian Defense Minister David Johnston said this week that an announcement was likely next week on the next phase of the search for the Boeing 777 which vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

(With Reuters and the Associated Press)