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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.

STUDYING SATELLITES

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)

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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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Robert Miano March 21 2014 at 8:44 AM

At this point it's any ones guess, my heart goes out to the families,
who had loved ones on that flight

Flag Reply +7 rate up
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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jjtbyrd March 21 2014 at 11:50 AM

The last thing we should do, is stop looking for the plane!! It didn't just disappear!! Their are lives on that plane and everyone has a right to be brought home to their family's, no matter how long it takes to find them!!

wouldn't you want to be found if it were you?

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dollibug March 21 2014 at 8:40 AM

So the media is trying to make the public believe that NO ONE KNOWS the location of the plane.....when the government can keep up with everything else? Interesting.

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1 reply
Gayle dollibug March 21 2014 at 9:46 AM

Yep...I've been saying that for days.

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grammascupboard March 21 2014 at 8:39 AM

I find it most upsetting and very sad that some of the comments are jokes. Says a lot about how much people really care.
I believe that the best opportunity to find the debris is with submarines and lots of prayers.

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1 reply
Cheryl grammascupboard March 21 2014 at 8:50 AM

Amen!!! Jerks..

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wiz March 21 2014 at 8:25 AM

Credit to Mr Abbott for a valiant try. Not promising as of now as per ususal

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a392bb March 21 2014 at 10:58 AM

There is more to this story than what is being told the more time that passes the less people will be interested after that a few pieces of info will filter out but the real story will never be told. Seems like that is the MO for events today.

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1 reply
ibeyour1 a392bb March 21 2014 at 1:35 PM

you are right. "There is more to this story than what is being told". Problem is no one knows what the story is so can't tell it.

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crockjack March 21 2014 at 9:55 AM

Just a thought, but the fact that the plane was brought up to 45,000 ft. and then
made a sudden plunge to 23,000 ft. says to me that perhaps the pilot may have
been trying to put out an engine fire by descending so fast. I've heard it said in
war-time that pilots do this maneuver to put out fires. Every little thought, that
may turn out to be the clincher that cracks this case should be considered.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
ibeyour1 crockjack March 21 2014 at 2:26 PM

seems to me that the lack of O2 at 45k ft would do better than diving. I'm not sure I trust any of the reported "flight data" from Boeing and or Rolls Royce though.

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bobieboop March 21 2014 at 8:14 AM

The people on that plane need all the prayers we can say for God' guidance.

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1 reply
ira7x bobieboop March 21 2014 at 8:42 AM

try the jungle africa

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