The authorities searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 fear that they may need to “regroup” and look at the possibility it came down somewhere else entirely, it has been reported.
The Bluefin 21 submersible vehicle has now scanned more than 80 per cent of the narrowed search area described as the most promising lead in the ongoing recovery effort, but so far not a single piece of physical evidence has been found.
The complete sweep is expected to be finished by the end of Wednesday, leaving the Perth-based search coordination centre under increasing pressure to explain what will happen if there are still no further leads.
According to reports in the New Straits Times, officials are now looking at the prospect of starting the whole search from scratch if they are to get to the bottom of the unprecedented mystery.
Quoting an unnamed official with the investigation team, the newspaper also appears to suggest the possibility that the plane “ landed” somewhere else entirely.
“We may have to regroup soon to look into this possibility if no positive results come back in the next few days ... but at the same time, the search mission in the Indian Ocean must go on,” the source was quoted as saying.
“The thought of it landing somewhere else is not impossible, as we have not found a single debris that could be linked to MH370.
“However, the possibility of a specific country hiding the plane when more than 20 nations are searching for it, seems absurd,” the source added.
In pictures: Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
In pictures: Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
1/13 Chinese relatives
A family member of a passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 burns incense as he prays at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing
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Family members of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 burn incense to pray at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing
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A family member of a passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 comforts another relative as they gather to pray at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing
4/13 Chinese relatives
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cry as they gather at the Lama Temple in Beijing. Chinese relatives marked 100 days since the plane went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing by offering prayers and burning incense at the buddhist temple
5/13 Chinese relatives
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 offer prayers at the Lama Temple in Beijing
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A Chinese relative of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 prays at the Lama Temple in Beijing
7/13 Chinese relatives
Chinese relatives of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 hold incense sticks and pray at the Lama Temple in Beijing
8/13 Malaysian relatives
Intan Maizura Othman (34) wife of MH370 fligh attendant Hazrin Hasnan holds placard during an event to remember the 100th day of the missing crews and passengers of Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 in Damansara, Selangor
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A young relative tries to stick paper planes on a board during an event to remember the 100th day of the missing crews and passengers of Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 in Damansara, Selangor
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Pictures of crews and passengers is displayed during an event to remember the 100th day of the missing crews and passengers of Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 in Damansara, Selangor
11/13 Chinese relatives
Chinese police men try to prevent relatives of Chinese passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH370 from marching to the Malaysian embassy from a hotel in Beijing
12/13 Search for flight MH370
Boatswain's Mate, Able Seaman Morgan Macdonald (L) observing markers from a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3K Orion at sea in the Southern Indian Ocean. An oil slick in the Indian Ocean is not from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, officials said when insisting underwater search efforts would be 'pursued to their completion'
13/13 Search for flight MH370
Craig Turner from Phoenix International monitoring the Artemis' depth and speed as the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle scans the ocean floor for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 in the southern Indian Ocean
Authorities believe the remote stretch of ocean around 2,000km (1,200 miles) northwest of Perth is the most likely resting place for MH370, which went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board, due to data picked up by the Inmarsat communications satellite.
Yet there are now reportedly growing concerns among investigators that they may be searching “in the wrong place”, due to an ongoing reliance on mathematical calculations and lack of physical evidence.
In a statement today, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said: “Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 80 percent of the focused underwater search area and further missions are planned.
“The search will continue. We are currently consulting very closely with our international partners on the best way to affect this for the future.”
Earlier today a tropical cyclone hit the area, forcing officials to suspend the visual search for debris on the surface.
And it has also now emerged that the passengers and crew who were aboard the jet at the time will be issued with death certificates, paving the way for potential lawsuits against the airline.