Australia has said cost is not a concern in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Searchers are also investigating "unidentified material" that washed up on the country's southwest coast.
Australian Defense Minister David Johnston on Wednesday told reporters that the financial cost of searching for the plane was of no concern.
"There will be some issues of costs into the future but this is not about costs," he said in Canberra adding, "We want to say to our friends in Malaysia and China this is not about cost, we are concerned to be seen to be helping them in a most tragic circumstance."
Australia is leading the multinational search in the southern Indian Ocean and bearing many of the costs. The search mission is expected to be the most expensive in aviation history.
China, whose citizens made up two-thirds of the passengers on MH370, and Malaysia are among eight countries, including Australia, that have committed planes or ships to the search.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, meanwhile, said search teams still believe the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean after disappearing on March 8 from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing with 239 people on board.
"We haven't finished the search, we haven't found anything yet in the area that we're searching, but the point I make is that Australia will not rest until we have done everything we humanly can to get to the bottom of this mystery," he said from Canberra.
Searchers were also investigating "unidentified material" that washed ashore 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of Augusta in Western Australia to see if it was linked to the Boeing 777.
Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), which is organizing the search, said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau was examining photographs of the material. However, officials cautioned it may be unconnected to the plane.
The search moved underwater nearly two weeks ago after several so-called pings consistent with an aircraft's black box were detected.
A torpedo-shaped autonomous underwater submarine, called Bluefin-21, has been searching an area at least 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) deep. The JACC said the unmanned mini-submarine, has scanned 80 percent of its target zone on the seabed using sonar and was now on its 10th dive. Nothing of interest has yet been found.
hc/ng (AFP, AP)