The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner has suffered a further setback after Australian ­officials said wreckage from the aircraft was not on the seabed in the area they had identified.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared from radar screens on March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

Investigators say the little available evidence, including the loss of communications, suggests the Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled route.

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The search was narrowed last month after a series of "pings" thought to be from the plane's black box recorders were heard near where analysis of satellite data put its last location, some 1600 km (1000 miles) off the northwest coast of Australia.

"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau 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," the agency in charge of the search said in a statement.