By Keith Laing - 04/03/14 10:26 AM EDT
Australian officials said Thursday they “cannot be certain” that the Malaysia Airlines that has been missing for nearly a month will ever be found.
The multi-national search for the missing plane, which was last seen on March 8, has been centered on an area in the south Indian Ocean that is near Perth, Australia.
Officials have said they are confident the flight crashed into the water after flying in a direction away from its intended destination for several hours.
“I say to the family members of the people on that flight, please be patient,” Abbott said. “I know this is an extraordinarily difficult, indeed devastating, time for you, but we will not let you down and when the time comes for you to visit Australia, we will extend to you the warmest possible welcome in a very difficult period in your lives. We cannot be certain of ultimate success in the search for MH370, but we can be certain that we will spare no effort, that we will not rest, until we have done everything we humanly can.”
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has mystified U.S. and international aviation experts for the better part of a month.
The plane was last detected by air traffic controllers about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China.
Investigators initially believed the plane has crashed into the Gulf of Thailand, where it was scheduled to be flying at the time of its last contact.
The search was relocated to the south Indian Ocean after investigations discovered satellite communications from the missing jet’s engines and leaders from multiple nations began finding images in the water that they believed were related to the plane’s disappearances.
The leads have thus far turned up empty however, and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said the conditions in the search area were worsening.
“This morning, I met sailors and aircrew at Pearce Air Force Base,” Razak said. “I also spoke to the Commanders of the seven nations who are here to search for MH370. They told me of the difficulties of a search like this, of distance and weather and of maintaining morale over a long period.”
Malaysian officials have been criticized for their handling of the search for the missing plane. Republicans in Congress have argued that the south Asian nation has put out conflicting reports about the potential whereabouts of the flight and is not properly equipped to lead the search.
The United States has sent officials from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense to assist with the search for the missing flight.
Razak said Thursday that the help from other nations has been invaluable, even though officials are no closer to locating the missing plane than they were nearly a month ago.
“This has been a remarkable effort, bringing together nations from around the world,” the Malaysian prime minister said. “When MH370 went missing, dozens of countries answered the call for help. Their commitment will not be forgotten. In a time of great tragedy for the countries with citizens on board and the families whose loved ones are missing, this cooperation has given us all heart.
“Differences have been set aside as 26 nations have united behind a common cause,” Razak continued. “The disappearance of MH370 is without precedent, so too is the search.”