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Officials dismissed reports Thursday that the missing Malaysian airliner's engines continued sending data for hours after its last contact

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Officials dismissed reports Thursday that the missing Malaysian airliner's engines continued sending data for hours after its last contact, but said it was possible the plane continued flying and that they would widen their search farther to the west.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper quoted U.S. investigators on Thursday as saying they suspected the Boeing 777 remained in the air for about four hours after its last confirmed contact, citing data from the plane's engines that are automatically transmitted to the ground as part of a routine maintenance program.

Malaysian Defense Minister and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the government had contacted Boeing and Rolls Royce, the engine manufacturer, and both said the last engine data was received at 1:07 a.m., several minutes before the plane lost contact over the South China Sea on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

An international search effort is sweeping the South China Sea, but also focusing on the Strait of Malacca because of unconfirmed military radar sightings indicating the plane may have changed course and headed west after it stopped communicating.

Asked if it were possible that the plane kept flying for several hours, Hishammuddin said: "of course, we can't rule anything out. This is why we have extended the search."

He said the search had been expanded into the Andaman Sea and that the country was asking for radar data from neighboring countries such as India. If the plane flew far from the current search areas, then locating it will likely be a vast task.

Investigators have not ruled out any possible cause for the disappearance of the plane and the 239 people on board. Experts say a massive failure knocking out its electrical systems, while unlikely, could explain why its transponders, which identify it to civilian radar systems and other planes nearby, were not working. Another possibility is that the pilot, or a passenger, likely one with some technical knowledge, switched off the transponders.

The plane was heading northeast over the Gulf of Thailand toward Vietnam when it vanished. The last message from the cockpit was routine: "All right, good night," was the signoff transmitted to Malaysian air traffic controllers.

Dozens of ships and aircraft from 12 nations have been searching the Gulf of Thailand and the strait, but no confirmed trace has been found. The search area has grown to 35,800 square miles (92,600 square kilometers), or about the size of Portugal.

Experts say that if the plane crashed into the ocean then some debris should be floating on the surface even if most of the jet is submerged. Past experience shows that finding the wreckage can take weeks or even longer, especially if the location of the plane is in doubt.

The hunt has been punctuated by false leads, the latest Thursday when planes were sent to search the area where Chinese satellite images published on a Chinese government website showed "three suspected floating objects" of varying sizes in a 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius off the southern tip of Vietnam.

"There is nothing. We went there, there is nothing," Azharuddin said.

In the latest in a series of confusing events, he later said the Chinese Embassy had notified the government that the images were released by mistake and did not show any debris from Flight 370.

Malaysia's air force chief said Wednesday that an unidentified object appeared on military radar records about 200 miles (320 kilometers) northwest of Penang, Malaysia, and experts are analyzing the data in an attempt to determine whether the blip is the missing plane.

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JOHNNY 65 March 13 2014 at 12:26 PM

I hope our radar can detect missle's being fired at us better than radar that can't track a plane over so many miles?

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frandinii March 13 2014 at 1:26 PM

Nobody onboard had a phone that was usable ?

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1 reply
ohger1s frandinii March 13 2014 at 1:38 PM

Yes, and what they did was take the phone and swim 250 miles to the nearest working cell tower. They should be within range of the tower within a few weeks. Stand by.

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boogiewiz March 13 2014 at 11:20 AM

why isn't anyone looking into the email from the oil drill site.. A man saw the plane go down.. It was in one piece completely engulfed in flames and went straight down

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maswain002 March 13 2014 at 1:25 PM

There were very important meetings in Beijing at that time involving ALL high ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese military leaders.
After the knife attack at the train station and the Chinese military's massive retaliation against the separatists, it would not be far fetched to imagine Chinese terrorists hijacking the jet and heading for Beijing to fly it into the meeting site or capital to wreak havoc.

If that were the case and the Chinese military became aware of the hijacking, as I'm sure they would, with their myarid of air defense and radar systems, it's not out of the question that the chinese Navy or Air Force shot the jet down.

It's not necessary that they fired a missile, they could have strafed an engine, or hammered the cockpit with AA fire, thereby leaving no heat sig on others radar, and they have adapted stealth technology for their jets, having stolen our technology.

If or where a damaged aircraft may have flown after an attack of that nature is anyone's guess, but.

Just a theory, but it does cover all the bases, and is certainly plausible given the facts and makes much more sense than many of the hog wash being promulgated by the media.

I pray that I'm wrong and that they all turn up safe somewhere, but the more time passes, the lower the odds.

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1 reply
hislonv maswain002 March 13 2014 at 1:48 PM

And if they launched a missle or blew it out of the air then the US satellites would have detected the explosion which they did not.

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oita March 13 2014 at 1:07 PM

A non military plane could be damaged by an EMP weapon. Military planes are protected against it but very few non military planes have that protection. EMP devices that destroy electronic controls are being made for the police to stop car computers. If such a device was on the plane the electronics would be rendered useless. The pilot would not be able to control the plane except for the throttle controls. They would not be able to communicate. The would not be able to navigate. A good pilot could change direction of the plane and altitude. One pilot was almost able to land a jet airliner using only throttle control. The pilot may have tried to go to lower altitude to navigate based on land marks. The EMP weapon would not need any explosive materials and may go undetected. The police have been experimenting with devices that stop a car by causing the car's computers to shut down. If an EMP weapon is responsible it means that all passengers jets are at risk. They could bring down as many jets as they have weapons. This may be only a trial run to see if it works. If it did the evidence of the EMP weapon would be destroyed. They then could plan a mass attack and bring down as many jets as they want on the same day. They have show that security is so lax that two young men could get on a jet with stolen passports. An EMP weapon is not even expected so it could get on the plane as luggage or cargo. If 100 jets were crashed on the same day there would be a world wide panic. It would be worse than 911.

This would explain how there was no distress call, why they could not find the plane and how they could get the "bomb" past security. The terrorist have vast funding to create such a weapon. My source of information on how military planes have special protection against EMP was an FAA inspector on the B2 bomber so I know it possible to bring down an unprotected plane and I am an automotive engineer and I know there are devices being developed by police to stop your car with a EMP device so a very clever and well funded terrorist group could make an EMP weapon that would destroy all solid state electronics on a jet. It could explain why they could not find the jet.

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3 replies
Paul March 13 2014 at 9:52 AM

After this situation, there should be transponders that cant be shut off with it's own battery backup.

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1 reply
robhaugh5 Paul March 13 2014 at 10:14 AM

Paul, you make a very good point, why should it be necessary for a transponder to have an on/off switch. The transponder should be full on at all times.

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1 reply
sachfoxo robhaugh5 March 13 2014 at 12:25 PM

Agreed robhaugh5 and Paul the transponders are Never to be turned off utill the plane lands and is controlled by the air fleight controller on the ground !

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theshift33 March 13 2014 at 12:36 PM

So heartbreaking and frustrating for these families. I am hoping now that the blatant multiple confusion is an indication that the plane was hijacked and the occupants are still alive. With 14 intelligence services in the U.S. alone as well as those in other nations and multi trillion dollar
black budgets with technology we couldn't even fathom, the confusion may be red herrings necessary to protect the lives of the occupants in what appears to be a very complicated and tenuous investigation. The best and the brightest are working on this and we as a spectators don't need to know every specific detail of an ongoing investigation. It is imperative that the occupants are protected and rescued if they are still alive. Bless them and their families.

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1 reply
Lanneytld theshift33 March 13 2014 at 12:52 PM

AMEN > well said.

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aerofanz March 13 2014 at 9:54 AM

I hope these families aren't reading the papers or the internet. It is quite obvious that many of these agencies feel no need to report on facts, just rumor and speculation. I feel badly that our news reality is that we have no solid news anymore. But since I have your attention........you know what I heard?

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tony March 13 2014 at 1:19 PM

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2 replies
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mestranger2all tony March 13 2014 at 1:38 PM

I think AOL is getting some compensation for allowing this activity to go forward cause every time I see one I flag it and vote neg to it and I get some of my votes are unable to be accepted so they are not goig

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RockNHula March 13 2014 at 11:14 AM

This is the strangest case. The 777-200 is a highly sophisticated aircraft. It has seven transmission hubs, all with their own power supplies. For all of those, mechnaical data which is transmitted to the manufacturer 24/7 (which cannot be turned off) , and passemnger wi-fi, to go out in one second, is bizarre. In an explosion, break-up, missile strike, decompression, all of that would have been seen on radar. As an investigator, my only opinion is--we don't know yet. It could be anything from UFOs, or something we don't understand.

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