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Fresh clues in search for Malaysia jetliner, but bad weather halts air search

PERTH, Australia (AP) -- The clues keep piling up: more and more mysterious objects spotted bobbing in the southern Indian Ocean, perhaps part of the missing Malaysian airliner, perhaps not. But just as the night sky depicts the universe as it once was, the satellite images that reveal these items are also a glance backward in time.

Strong winds and fast currents make it difficult to pinpoint where they are right now, and stormy weather Thursday again halted the hunt by air and sea for evidence of debris fields. The search for the plane that disappeared March 8 has yet to produce a single piece of debris - not to mention the black boxes, which could solve the mystery of why the jet flew so far off-course.

For relatives of the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, it was yet another agonizing day of waiting.

"Until something is picked up and analyzed to make sure it's from MH370, we can't believe it," Steve Wang, whose 57-year-old mother was aboard the flight, said in Beijing. "Without that, it's useless."

Japan said it provided Malaysia with information from satellite images taken Wednesday showing about 10 objects that might be debris from the plane, with the largest measuring about 4 meters by 8 meters (13 feet by 26 feet). The objects were located about 2,500 kilometers (1,560 miles) southwest of Perth, Japan's Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office said.

That would place them in the same general area as the 122 objects spotted by a French satellite on Sunday.

Muddying the picture perhaps, a Thai satellite revealed about 300 objects about 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the southwest of the items seen by the Japanese and French satellites. The photos were taken Monday, one day after the French and two days before the Japanese.

The objects spotted by the Thaichote satellite ranged from 2 meters to 16 meters long, said Anond Snidvongs, director of Thailand's space technology development agency. He said the images took two days to process and were relayed to Malaysian authorities Wednesday.

A Pentagon spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said the U.S. has also been "sharing imagery as appropriate" with investigators, but he declined to say what it entailed.

It's unknown whether any of the objects detected by the various satellites were the same. Currents in the ocean can run a meter per second (about 2.2 mph) and wind also could move material.

Nevertheless, the images have helped guide the search. What hasn't helped is the weather. Heavy rain, wind and low clouds caused the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to pull back all 11 planes scheduled to take part in the search Thursday. Five ships continued the hunt.

All but three of the planes - a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon, a Japanese P-3 Orion and a Japanese Gulfstream jet - reached the search zone, about 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth, before the air search was suspended, AMSA spokesman Sam Cardwell said.

They were there "maybe two hours" and found nothing, Cardwell said. "They got a bit of time in, but it was not useful because there was no visibility."

In a message on its Twitter account, AMSA said the bad weather was expected to last 24 hours.

The extreme remoteness of the area and its frequent high seas also complicate the search.

"This is a really rough piece of ocean, which is going to be a terrific issue," said Kerry Sieh, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore. "I worry that people carrying out the rescue mission are going to get into trouble."

Planes have been flying out of Perth for a week, seeing a few small objects that might or might not be from the plane and nothing of the possible debris fields viewed by the Japanese, Thai and French satellites. Even the few objects the planes saw seemed to vanish when aircraft went back for another look.

If and when any bit of wreckage from Flight 370 is recovered and identified, searchers will be able to narrow their hunt for the rest of the Boeing 777 and its flight data and cockpit voice recorders. The plane was supposed to fly from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing but turned away from its route soon after takeoff and flew for several hours before crashing.

Malaysian officials said earlier this week that satellite data confirmed the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines ran a full-page condolence advertisement with a black background in a major Malaysian newspaper.

"Our sincerest condolences go out to the loved ones of the 239 passengers, friends and colleagues. Words alone cannot express our enormous sorrow and pain," read the advertisement in the New Straits Times.

Subramaniam Gurusamy, whose son Puspanathan Subramaniam was on the flight, said at this point he seeks "closure."

"If they never find the body of the plane or anything at all, my heart will always be painful," he said in Kuala Lumpur. "I will never find the peace. I just need to know this"

Officials still don't know why Flight 370 disappeared. Investigators have ruled out nothing - including mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.

Some speculation has focused on the pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, but his son, in an interview published Thursday in the New Straits Times, rejected the idea that his father might be to blame.

"I've read everything online, but I've ignored all the speculation," Ahmad Seth said. "I know my father better."


McDonald reported from Kuala Lumpur. Associated Press writers Eileen Ng and Gillian Wong in Kuala Lumpur, Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok, Christopher Bodeen and Didi Tang in Beijing, Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand, and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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gmaestral March 28 2014 at 2:49 AM

The captain of that aircraft out smarted everyone. Its too bad that people are now going to have to worry if they are flying with a suicidal pilot. I know that I'm scared. I have a feeling that it will take at least $60 billion dollars and 5 years to find that aircraft. Is very sad for the families, but this is a very big task at hand and soon enough some countries will probably pull back and give up.

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alho42 March 27 2014 at 10:49 PM

Three hundred objects floating, that says something right there. The plane must be pretty deep in the water. Yet if all of these objects are floating from it, does that mean that the plane will surface or move with the current of the ocean waves? Or that the plane is broken in two? Tell us all of a plane that has been hi-jacked that does not make it to its distination? I have not heard of one that went down. If some one took over the plane and flew it to where ever they had planned, why would they have not been heard from by now, as don't they always do such things to get something from their actions? I am sorry but I really think this plane is in the ocean.

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2 replies
cnsltphoto alho42 March 27 2014 at 11:42 PM

They are in the "garbage dump" of the worlds oceans...........three major current bring anything and everything thrown overboard........even from cruise ships..........are you surprised they have found 122.....ooooooooooops.........no.........over 300 objects.......

LOL ............122 ....as if........

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mike06215 alho42 March 28 2014 at 12:07 AM

The plane was blown to pieces by a US navy missile in order to prevent another 911. Those two Muslim pilots were on a suicide mission and had to be stopped. As for the so called pieces of the plane floating thousands of miles from where the plane was destroyed, our spy satellites can read a newspaper from 300 ,miles in space. They can actually read the letters and numbers on any floating pieces, but the government is keeping that a secret as the public is fooled by poor quality weather satellite photos.

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jinma224xr March 27 2014 at 10:36 PM

Big Truck's have had GPS for Many year's. They know every minute, of Every Hour,, of Every Day of the Year,, where a Big Truck is at. That Truck has at the most 2 people in it,, and most only have 1 person in it.

They let Commercial Air Transport's with way over 200 people on board fly around with no idea where the Plane is at? This is what is Criminal! Head's should Roll,, and GPS installed on All Air Transport Plane's Immediately. It's not a Matter of IF,, But When the Next Air Transport Plane will go down.

Traveling by Plane is absolutely the Safest Way to Travel,, unless you get on the one that Goe's Down Or Get's Lost.

For those that think this is too much coverage. Put the Shoe on the other Foot. If you were one of the One's on that Plane,, would you want us to Forget about Hunting for You,, especially if You Might Possibly Still Be Alive?

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2 replies
slewntus jinma224xr March 27 2014 at 10:53 PM

All modern airliners, including the 777 have GPS.

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1 reply
Gayle slewntus March 27 2014 at 11:11 PM

Obviously not.

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Joebudgie jinma224xr March 27 2014 at 10:57 PM

I understand the frustration expressed in the last paragraph of your comment. But, what have you found out in the last week that was one bit different than what you learned on the first day the plane was missing? I'd like to hear some "new" news, too. All this crying about the weather and poor or no visibility is dumb. The fishermen in the North Atlantic manage to not only navigate rough seas and weather but haul lobster traps or trawler nets while doing it.

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dvarnum1 March 28 2014 at 5:53 AM

It appears this is where the plane final destiny ended. The evidence are mounting up. It is now just a matter of time. my sincere condolences as the entire hunan race goes out to the families and the friends of the lost souls in the tragedy. Once the black box and flight recorder is founded the mystery will all come to light and the airline industry will have concrete information what needs to be done to improve air travel everywhere!

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adreaadams March 27 2014 at 11:19 PM

I am so tired of all of the speculation!!! and the number of pieces of debris. If you can count pieces of debris on the surface of the ocean, then scoop some of them up. Something is amiss. A lot of somethings are askew. If the 'experts' do not know what happened or where any actual debris rests, just say so. Nobody knows what happened or where the plane or passengers are AND that's OK, stop mucking with us. If any government is hiding something, it will surface, eventually. I just feel bad for all the families in limbo; a damned shame after three weeks. I too believe the plane is crashed in the ocean and may never be recovered, but it seems to me that a few bodies would have become dislodged and floated up by now, unless the plane is irretrievably lodged miles below the ocean floor. // For all the people joking about this, it is not a time to joke, but to be empathetic; it could be any of our family members. How would you jokers have felt about someone joking about unlocated 9/11 victims, or if your child went to the store or a friend's and never returned and persons unknown to you joked about it? Come on, support humanity better than that.

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Kay March 27 2014 at 10:49 PM

I agree that then need to find something of these in the ocean to see what it is and if it is actually from the plane. Until then no one can be sure what happened to the plane, although we can all speculate but until they find parts of the plane and look at it and check it, no one knows for sure!

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b19821 March 28 2014 at 12:01 AM

SUBMARINES: The U.S. and other nations that have subs NEVER DISCLOSE THE LOCATION of the subs in theif fleet. They are underwater for a reason. So you cannot see them and YOU CANNOT TRACK THEM. They do not give out the locations so that you cannot hold a class to try to track them. Simple.

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kmikey212 March 27 2014 at 8:17 PM

My heart goes out to the families with loved ones on this flight. You are in my prayers. KM

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atisonc March 28 2014 at 1:39 AM

The moment when you realize you cannot trust anyone to find the BLACK BOX has been realized. Pretty much. Why even fly?

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1 reply
ginab605 atisonc March 28 2014 at 2:10 AM

To get to point 'B' .

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1 reply
Ghetto Cat ginab605 March 28 2014 at 3:21 AM

More like to get to point C by flying 30k ft in the air to avoid point B and because some just like the rush of danger because their veins are filled with french fry grease.

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scavoski77 March 27 2014 at 10:13 PM

My prayers are with all of the families, no one deserves to feel the pain of loosing a loved one especially in a way that there is no closure. I hope someone finds information to ease the pain

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