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MH370 search images 'very clear'

Malaysia's defense minister says that images retrieved from the underwater vehicle searching for MH370 were "very clear" but had so far returned no evidence of the missing flight.

PT0M47S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-36vey 620 349

An oil slick found in the ocean where the search continues for missing flight MH370 was not from a plane engine or hydraulics, the search coordinators say.

In a statement released on Thursday night, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said preliminary analysis of a sample of the oil showed it was not related to the missing plane.

The JACC, headed by former Defence chief, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said there is "a small but acceptable level of risk" in using the Bluefin-21 underwater drone to scan the Indian Ocean's seabed at depths below 4,500 metres.

Bluefin-21 is craned over the side of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield.

Bluefin-21 is craned over the side of Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield. Photo: Getty Images

"This expansion of the operating parameters allows the Bluefin-21 to search the sea floor within the predicted limits of the current search area," the JACC said.

JACC also rejected suggestions the drone could take between six weeks to two months to scan the entire search area.

"Since the US Navy provided comment some days ago, the underwater search has been significantly narrowed through detailed acoustic analysis conducted on the four signal detections made by the towed pinger locator on ADV Ocean Shield," the JACC said.

JACC head: Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.

JACC head: Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston. Photo: AP

"This analysis has allowed the definition of a reduced and more focused underwater search area."

The search will continue throughout the Easter long weekend, including with the Bluefin-21 underwater drone, more than 2000 kilometres northwest of Perth.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is confident the search is focused on the right area, based on acoustic signals detected by a pinger locator towed by an Australian Navy vessel.

He told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that the best leads would be exhausted in about a week.‘‘If we don’t find wreckage, we stop, we regroup, we reconsider,’’ he said.

Saturday will mark six weeks since the disappearance of flight MH370.

with AAP