Australian PM says not putting time limit on hunt for missing Malaysian plane

SYDNEY Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:47pm EDT

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott is guided around a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft by Australia's Air Force Group Commander Craig Heap (2nd L) during Abbott's visit to RAAF Base Pearce near Perth March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott is guided around a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft by Australia's Air Force Group Commander Craig Heap (2nd L) during Abbott's visit to RAAF Base Pearce near Perth March 31, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday there was no time limit on the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, missing for more than three weeks in the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board.

"I'm certainly not putting a time limit on it," Abbott told reporters at Pearce airbase in Perth. "We can keep searching for quite some time to come and we will keep searching for quite some time to come."

"The intensity of our search and the magnitude of operations is increasing, not decreasing," he said.

A total of 20 aircraft and ships will be scouring the remote seas off the Australian southwest coast on Monday for the Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 crew.

(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Paul Tait)

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