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Australia takes up southern search for lost plane

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Australia took the lead Monday in searching for the missing Boeing 777 over the southern Indian Ocean as Malaysia appealed for radar data and search planes to help in the unprecedented hunt through a vast swath of Asia stretching northwest into Kazakhstan.

French investigators arriving to lend expertise from the two-year search for an Air France jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 said they was able to rely on distress signals - but investigators say the Malaysian airliner's communications links were deliberately severed ahead of its mysterious disappearance more than a week ago.

"It's very different from the Air France case. The Malaysian situation is much more difficult," Jean Paul Troadec, a special adviser to France's aviation accident investigation bureau, said in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian authorities say the jet carrying 239 people was purposely diverted from its flight path during an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, and suspicions has fallen on anyone aboard the plane with aviation experience, particularly the pilot and co-pilot.

Malaysian police confiscated a flight simulator from the pilot's home Saturday and also visited the home of the co-pilot, in what Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar later said was the first police visits to those homes. The government issued a statement Monday contradicting that account by saying that police first visited the pilots' home on March 9, the day after the flight.

Investigators haven't ruled out hijacking or sabotage and are checking backgrounds of all 227 passengers and 12 crew members, as well as the ground crew, to see if links to terrorists, personal problems or psychological issues could be factors.

Malaysia's government in the meantime sent out out diplomatic cables to all countries in the search area, seeking their help with the search, as well as to ask for any radar data that might help narrow the task. Some 26 countries are involved in the search, which initially focused on seas on either side of peninsular Malaysia, in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca.

Over the weekend, however, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that investigators determined that a satellite picked up a faint signal from the aircraft about 7 ½ hours after takeoff. The signal indicated that the plane would have been somewhere on a vast arc stretching from Kazakhstan down to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Had the plane gone northwest toward Kazakhstan, it would have crossed over countries with busy airspace, and some experts believe the person in control of the aircraft would more likely have chosen to go south. However, authorities are not ruling out the northern corridor and are eager for radar data that might confirm or rule out that path.

The northern search corridor crosses through countries including China, India and Pakistan - all of which have indicated they have seen no sign of the plane so far.

An official with the Chinese civil aviation authority said the missing plane did not enter Chinese airspace, but the Chinese Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry didn't immediately respond to questions on radar information.

Indonesian officials have said the plane did not cross their territory, based on radar data. Air force spokesman Rear Mar. Hadi Tjahjanto said Monday his country's search efforts were focusing on waters west of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament that he agreed to take the lead scouring the southern Indian Ocean for the "ill-fated aircraft" during a conversation Monday with Malaysia's leader.

"Australia will do its duty in this matter," Abbott told parliament. "We will do our duty to the families of the 230 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence, and who are still profoundly, profoundly saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery."

Australia already has had two AP-3C Orion aircraft involved in the search, one of them looking north and west of the remote Cocos Islands. The southern Indian Ocean is the world's third-deepest and one of the most remote stretches of water in the world, with little radar coverage.

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southoc100 March 17 2014 at 4:15 PM

Good Bless Australia.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
bensonchiro March 17 2014 at 12:03 PM

Where are the satellite pictures, able to read license plates from space, of all "hostile" countries possible landing strips/hiding places (hangars)? That's where we should be looking.

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Richard March 17 2014 at 10:08 AM

SOMEBODY knows what's happening with that plane. Perhaps it's something being directed at China since most of the passengers were Chinese.

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hwshockeymom March 17 2014 at 8:08 AM

I find this tramatic! I feel so awful for the families, because this has been ongoing now for 10 days with no answers. I just want them to know so many more people are listening and feel this limbo that they are in! I hope each day for those around you to comfort you, listen to you and hold you strong. I hope each day we find your family and loved ones, and bring them home!!! I hope we can find all the answers so we can make sure it Never Happens Again!!!

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greatbirdusa March 17 2014 at 7:27 AM

1937: Amelia Earhart
Disappearance of Amelia Earhart..
The groundbreaking aviator was on her most ambitious flight,
vying to become the first woman to fly around the world.
She attempted the voyage in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra.
With about 7,000 miles left to go,
her radio transmissions became unclear, and the last thing she reported over her radio was,
"We are running north and south,"

Bedford to Paris, 1944:
On 15 December, the single-engined aircraft left south-east England carrying one of the hottest big-band leaders of the era, Glenn Miller.

1945: Flight 19 Navy bombers
Flight 19 does not refer to a single plane, but to FIVE Navy bombers
that disappeared off the Florida coast on December 5, 1945.
Radio transmissions indicated that the instructor got lost when compasses malfunctioned. Adding to the mystery,
A search aircraft sent to look for Flight 19 also disappeared.
The patrol plane, which took off later that day, has not been seen or heard from since.
Flight 19 was reported in the area informally known as the Bermuda Triangle.

Or consider the plane that "was found"...

Uruguay to Chile, 1972:
One of the most remarkable stories in air history
saw 16 people survive by eating the victims of the plane's crash in the Andes.....

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1 reply
totalstudentsvcs greatbirdusa March 17 2014 at 7:48 AM

Your point? Those events are from an era that had no satelites, GPS and so on. They used magnetic compasses and gyroscopes to level the plane .... The tech level is not even close to todays tech

Flag Reply +1 rate up
swifterman March 17 2014 at 7:13 AM

. . .
Ask the C entral I ntelligence A gency !
They needed a mystery to cover up their "work" on destabilyzing Ukraine !

Flag Reply +4 rate up
vaughn.withers March 17 2014 at 7:12 AM

I can't get service in some places in the states and we're suppossedly technologically advanced.... so what would make you think that cell service is available on some remote island. And by now, I would think that batteries would be depleted. If you know a phone that has a battery that lasts that long, please let me know, I NEED that one.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Alexistheking124 vaughn.withers March 17 2014 at 7:19 AM

At the time passengers realized something was going on, they could have used their cellphones. The plane supposedly flew over land. The range for a cellphone signal is about 35 miles.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
azurmendi Alexistheking124 March 17 2014 at 7:50 AM

It was late at night. Most probably the passengers were sleeping or trying to.

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PAULIE Alexistheking124 March 17 2014 at 9:39 AM

... or were gassed or shot

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marg0614 March 17 2014 at 7:04 AM

why dont somebody call for help useing their cell

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4 replies
Barbara March 17 2014 at 6:53 AM

Just so very sad and incomprehensible.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
qmcsm004 March 17 2014 at 6:11 AM

I wonder if we will learn any lessons from this and ensure this never happens again.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
Robert Leonetti qmcsm004 March 17 2014 at 6:38 AM


Flag Reply 0 rate up
totalstudentsvcs qmcsm004 March 17 2014 at 7:39 AM

Remember 911? We learned absolutely NOTHING. You would think that after 3000 innocent people gave their lives FOR WHAT .... NOTHING and NO LESSONS LEARNED EITHER

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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