Australia’s former defence chief Angus Houston says the search and recovery operation for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 “could drag on” for some time.
Air Chief Marshal Houston is leading a new joint agency coordination centre, which will have about 20 staff headquartered at Dumas House near the West Australian parliament.
“We will continue pursuing the search with much vigour,” he told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.
“I have to say in my experience – and I have got a lot of experience in search and rescue over the years – this search and recovery operation is probably the most challenging I have ever seen.”
He said the last known position of the plane was a long way away from the area being examined and until some debris were found to narrow down the search, it “could drag on for a long time”.
“We’ve been searching for many, many days and so far have not found anything connected with MH370,” he said.
Air Chief Marshal Houston said it was not known what altitude and speed the aircraft was travelling at and authorities were relying on the best information available.
When asked about Danica Weeks – the wife of missing Perth passenger, Paul Weeks, who visited the RAAF Pearce air base on Tuesday – Air Chief Marshal Houston said he had passed on his personal phone number to her and urged her to come to the centre for a one-on-one briefing.
He said the updated information about the pilot’s final words also provided some clarity.
“The last communication was more formal than what was reported some weeks ago,” he said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will visit Perth on Wednesday and Thursday to tour Pearce and personally thank the international forces taking part in the search.