PERTH, Australia, May 29 (UPI) -- After scouring 850 square kilometers of ocean floor for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 off the coast of Australia, authorities reported Thursday there are "no signs of aircraft debris."
The search had focused on that particular area in the Indian Ocean based on acoustic pings detected there in April that searchers originally believed were emanating from the plane's black box.
Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Center announced Thursday that "the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370."
"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and in its professional judgment, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370."
Despite the lack of aircraft debris, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss expressed confidence that remnants of the plane would be found in the nearby waters, telling parliament Thursday: "We are still very confident that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern ocean and along the seventh ping line."
Per Truss' announcement on May 5, the search has now evolved into three major stages:
1. Reviewing all existing information and analysis to define a search zone of up to 60,000 square kilometres along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean;
2. Conducting a bathymetric survey to map the sea floor in the defined search area;
3. Acquiring the specialist services required for a comprehensive search of the sea floor in that area.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.