SYDNEY -- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday admitted it was "highly unlikely" that any surface wreckage will be found from Flight MH370 as he announced a more intensive underwater search.
Australia is coordinating the hunt for the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 which disappeared on March 8 carrying 239 people and is believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.
Aircraft and ships have been scanning the surface of vast tracts of remote ocean off the western Australian coast for more than 40 days with no signs of wreckage from the plane.
"I am now required to say to you that it is highly unlikely at this stage that we will find any aircraft debris on the ocean surface," Abbott told reporters in Canberra.
"By this stage, 52 days into the search, most material would have become water logged and sunk," he added.
"With the distances involved, all of the aircraft are operating at close to the limit of sensible and safe operation."