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(CNN) - A prolonged undersea search for the missing Malaysian jetliner could cost nearly a quarter of a billion U.S. dollars if private companies are used, Australia's top transport official said Thursday.
Martin Dolan emphasized that the $234 million price tag is a "ballpark rough estimate" of an extended search and salvage mission.
Searchers seem to be preparing for the possibility that an underwater drone scan of the southern Indian Ocean may not yield immediate debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
If no traces of MH370 are found, officials will be forced to review the operation and find a way forward, the Malaysian acting transport minister said Thursday.