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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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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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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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jim March 21 2014 at 10:03 AM

Another day no worthy news to report... However I have learned about Boeing 777 aircraft, its dimensions, the weight, fuel capacity and range of flight. Why cell phones don`t work over the ocean. That we are too smug thinking that technology keeps us safe in the air or on the ground. That as a nation we have no moral credibility throughout the world. I have become friends with Google Earth and have viewed many parts of the world, searching for runways and have learned to spell hangar. Even with all the seemingly ridiculous theory here someone is close to the truth. We may never know. Hope for the best possible outcome, prayer for crew and passengers.

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1 reply
WilsonAir jim March 21 2014 at 10:29 AM

Jim, Can you go back in tme with Google Earth? Simply, we know the timeline of the plane to some degree, Most of it's flight was at night, however it flew for 7 and a half hours which means that it would be light when it landed. This would allow it to reach the middle east in that amount of time. Can you go back and look at a certain dates and times on Google Earth?

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1 reply
jim WilsonAir March 21 2014 at 10:36 AM

you are correct on all counts except for time travel, google earth is just another tool to use if not familiar with that region of the world, yes aware that google earth data is on a timeline but a runway one mile long, 6 years ago.... is still 1 mile long.

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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

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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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dianealonso March 21 2014 at 11:51 AM

Why don't they ask Putin where the plane is?

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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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jechandle March 21 2014 at 12:50 PM

The Andaman Islands, one of the key locations in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novel, "The Sign of Four".
The British used to have a penal colony there, and if one escaped from the prison compound, he would have to contend with little people with blow pipes that might eat them, or shrink their heads.
Now there's a place to put on your bucket list.

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WatergirlHawaii March 21 2014 at 12:50 PM

Perhaps I've missed all of it, but the Chinese governemnts minimal participation from the beginning is disturbing considering how many of thier countrymen are lost. I cant help but wonder why they waited over a week to engage thier plethora of satelites; meanwhile making demands of Malaysia who they know does not have adequate infrastructure, technoligies & capabilities for such an endeavour. Now that they are dispatching several ships to the area gives me hope that wreckageindeed has been confirmed; but sadly, much too late for any survivors.

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1 reply
totalstudentsvcs WatergirlHawaii March 21 2014 at 2:14 PM

They waited a week because after day 1 authorities already knew what happend and where that plane was ... that seems to be the best answer to why evryone involved dragged their feet in looking for it.

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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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