The quote that says it all came about 24h ago from one of the leaders of the Australian search team: “We’re not looking for a needle in a haystack. We’re looking for the haystack.”
The Malaysian government has accepted that they are not going to find any survivors. After more than two weeks, that is not an unreasonable assumption, however unwelcome it may be for relatives of those on board. It would not have been any kinder to pretend otherwise when Inmarsat and the UK CAA have determined that the last signal contact with the aircraft showed it was in the “southern corridor” over the southern Indian Ocean, not the “northern corridor” which could have generated a faint hope of human survival somewhere remote in south-east Asia.
Unless that evidence is discredited, and there is no reason to believe it will be, the gruelling sea search will continue as the Southern Hemisphere winter approaches. In the case of AF447, when winter arrived the search had to be abandoned until good weather returned in the early summer.
This search will not be for the faint-hearted