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Australia says suspected debris may have sunk, no sighting in search for jet

(Reuters) - The international team hunting for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean has not turned up anything so far, and Australia's deputy prime minister said the suspected debris may have sunk.

Aircraft and ships have renewed a search in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand, going over areas that have already been exhaustively swept to find some clue to unlock one of the most inexplicable mysteries in modern aviation.

The Boeing 777 went missing almost two weeks ago off the Malaysian coast with 239 people aboard. There has been no confirmed sign of wreckage but two objects seen floating deep south in the Indian Ocean were considered a credible lead and set off a huge hunt on Thursday.

Australian authorities said the first aircraft to sweep treacherous seas on Friday in an area about 2,500 km (1,500 miles) southwest of Perth was on its way back to base without spotting the objects picked out by satellite images five days ago.

Missing Plane Search Resumes

"Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating," Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Perth. "It may have slipped to the bottom."

But the search is continuing and and Australian, New Zealand and U.S. aircraft would be joined by Chinese and Japanese planes over the weekend.

"It's about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the Earth, but if there is anything down there, we will find it," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters in Papua New Guineau, where he is on a visit.

"Now it could just be a container that's fallen off a ship. We just don't know, but we owe it to the families, and the friends and the loved ones to do everything we can to try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle."

India said it was sending two aircraft, a Poseidon P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and a C-130 Hercules transporter, to join the hunt in the southern Indian Ocean. It is also sending another P-8I and four warships to search in the Andaman Sea, where the plane was last seen on military radar on March 8.

In New Delhi, officials said the search in areas around the Andaman island chain was not at the request of Malaysian authorities coordinating the global search for the airliner.

"All the navies of the world have SAR regions," said Capt. D.K. Sharma, an Indian navy spokesman, referring to search and rescue regions. "So we're doing it at our own behest.

"We're doing it on our own because the Malaysian plane is still missing."

Investigators suspect Flight MH370, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing shortly after midnight on March 8, was deliberately diverted thousands of miles from its scheduled path. They say they are focusing on hijacking or sabotage but have not ruled out technical problems.

The search for the plane also continues in other regions, including a wide arc sweeping northward from Laos to Kazakhstan.

In the Indian Ocean, three Australian P-3 Orions joined a high-tech U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon and a civilian Bombardier Global Express jet to search the 23,000 square km (8,900 sq mile) zone, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

A Norwegian merchant ship, the Hoegh St. Petersburg, was diverted to the area on Thursday and was still searching there and another vessel would arrive later on Friday.

China's icebreaker for Antarctic research, Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, will set off from Perth to search the area, Chinese state news agency Xinhua cited maritime authorities as saying. Up to five more Chinese ships were steaming towards the search zone from across the Indian Ocean, Xinhua reported.

Australian authorities said they had not asked for the ships to search the area. About two-thirds of the missing plane's passengers were Chinese nationals.


There have been many false leads and no confirmed wreckage found from Flight MH370 since it vanished off Malaysia's east coast less than an hour after taking off.

There has also been criticism of the search operation and investigation, as more than two dozen countries scramble to overcome logistical and diplomatic hurdles.

Investigators piecing together patchy data from military radar and satellites believe that, minutes after its identifying transponder was switched off as it crossed the Gulf of Thailand, the plane turned sharply west, re-crossing the Malay Peninsula and following an established route towards India.

What happened next is unclear, but faint electronic "pings" picked up by one commercial satellite suggest the aircraft flew on for at least six hours.

A source with direct knowledge of the situation said that information gleaned from the pings had been passed to investigators within a few days, but it took Malaysia more than a week to narrow the search area to two large arcs - one reaching south to near where the potential debris was spotted, and a second crossing to the north into China and central Asia.

(Additional reporting by Jane Wardell in Sydney, Naomi Tajitsu in Wellington, A. Ananthalakshmi, Anuradha Raghu and Niluksi Koswanage in Kuala Lumpur, Neil Darby in Perth, Byron Kaye in Canberra, Mark Hosenball and Andrea Shalal in Washington, Nicholas Vinocur in Paris, Paul Sandle in London,; Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati in New Delhi; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Nick Macfie)

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
margot_hilaire1 March 21 2014 at 12:06 PM

Al right good night is not what someone sais that is ready to kill 250 passengers. I suspect that the plain was tampered with on the ground before it took of.
This is my version. MH.

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JOHNNY 65 March 21 2014 at 9:17 AM

You know what they say about opinion's?

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chappy63 March 21 2014 at 12:05 PM

Is there a remote possibility that it has landed at a secret landing site somewhere. Seems odd that there has been no sightings whatsoever

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2 replies
TALAT AHMED chappy63 March 21 2014 at 12:20 PM

There are many volcanos in that area. ???????????!!!!!!!!!!

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b19821 chappy63 March 21 2014 at 12:20 PM

Hijacked, now sitting in a hanger getting a new paint job. It will be on it's intended new mission in two to three weeks. I think it will be re-purposed sooner than later. They will want to use it before we track it down, or someone spills the beabs on where it is.

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2 replies
Mark b19821 March 21 2014 at 1:09 PM

Sure. Yeah. OK.

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ptgrella b19821 March 21 2014 at 3:22 PM

Why steal a plane in mid-flight when you can steal one at night parked in a commercial carrier terminal? Do all major airports hire armed security to patrol the grounds of airport terminals?

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Jim March 21 2014 at 12:21 PM

The search crew can't be all bad as they have my favorite Martian as a squadron mascot. This is probably the highest resolution photo I have seen on this computer! Goooood picture for sure.

All the search efforts are facing an almost impossible task. I have travelled the Indian ocean by ship and can verify it is probably the nastiest body of water on this planet as far as weather is concerned, especially so since it is turning winter down there. Most of the time when you looked out the bridge windows on the guided missle cruiser I was serving on, what you saw was pretty much like what you see on the TV news reports of the ship battling the heavy seas. May the searchers remain safe so they don't become part of the search for survivors.

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1 reply
ptgrella Jim March 21 2014 at 3:15 PM

Can't submarine vessels be used versus overwater aircraft.

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moonsun2011 March 21 2014 at 9:37 AM

if there was ANY failure in the plane BEFORE cutting everything Captain is suppose to notify ground. Heard word "May day" He had enough time to cut off everything BUT no time to notify ground that there was "some" problem in the plane.

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2 replies
queenotvl moonsun2011 March 21 2014 at 9:41 AM

moonsun.....the Indian Ocean is 3-5 miles deep....will you volunteer to dive that? The subs are in the area looking with radar, sonar, etc......don't call people who post 'dumb' if you are out of rocks yourself!!!

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kjclark1 moonsun2011 March 21 2014 at 9:42 AM

Professional pilot training calls for "flying the airplane" to be top priority, "work the problem" second priority, and calling the ground comes up third. May have had his hands full dealing with the first 2, and to be honest, there would be nothing for the ground to do for him other than he's letting them know there is a problem. If there was a fire in the avionics bay that shut down transponders, ACARS, etc., could have also gotten the radios............

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1 reply
dubricus kjclark1 March 21 2014 at 10:06 AM

Would autopilot have been affected by such a fire? What about oxygen for the pilots? Could they have been incapacitated by fumes, but managed to turn on autopilot before losing consciousness?

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kjclark1 March 21 2014 at 9:39 AM

I hate to say this, especially for the families and their terrible grief of "not knowing", but you better be prepared for this to take a VERY long time. In the case of AF447, they had a good idea where it went down, and still it took 5 days to find floating wreckage and another TWO YEARS before they found the plane itself on the bottom of the Atlantic. We better get ready for a wait just as long if not longer...............

I do understand that the Mayalsian government has been overwhelmed by this and do not have the experience we do, but to be honest, I feel if the U.S. was in charge of this, we'd be exactly where we are today. This "needle in a haystack" is similar to someone telling you they have hidden a softball somewhere along U.S. Interstate 40 in Kansas........and you need to go out and find it knowing only that.

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2 replies
dubricus kjclark1 March 21 2014 at 10:02 AM

I suspect this plane will never be found. With AF447, they, at least, new the flight path & the approximate point of the disappearance. In this case, they have no flight path. I think that based on the satellite info, they are hoping that they have the same now. The ocean is much deeper, rougher & more remote than AF447.

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totalstudentsvcs kjclark1 March 21 2014 at 10:05 AM

Did someone turn off the transponders on the softball and delete all the video game files for the XBox Softball Champion game .... ?

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bpan7 March 21 2014 at 9:43 AM

Why is it even possible to turn off the transponder?

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2 replies
gregrobsn bpan7 March 21 2014 at 10:40 AM

Because they don't want 50 aircraft sitting on the ground at the airport "Squawking" their ID codes every time the radar beam sweeps the plane.

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ibeyour1 bpan7 March 21 2014 at 2:37 PM

duh, fire

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Buckingham's March 21 2014 at 12:33 PM

For those who are complaining about the search for airplane parts southwest of Perth, Australia, try looking at a world globe. The southern ocean is the MOST remote vast place on earth.

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Gayle March 21 2014 at 9:44 AM

We need to get hacker group Anonymous on this case...no kidding they could probably figure out what the hell is going on that no one can find this huge plane and passengers. The NSA flopped.

Cen't be any more far fetched than some ideas.

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Milli March 21 2014 at 11:53 AM

I am sure they are doing everything possibe to find this aircraft, its the strangest thing, lets hope and pray that thery can fine something that will bring releif to the families and loves ones.

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