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Jet search cut short; new satellite spots objects

PERTH, Australia (AP) -- Planes and ships searching for debris suspected of being from the missing Malaysian jetliner failed to find any Thursday before bad weather cut their hunt short, as Thailand said one of its satellites had spotted hundreds of objects in the area.

The Thai satellite spotted the objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean near an area where planes and ships have been hunting unsuccessfully for a week for any sign of debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard.

The images from the Thai satellite showed "300 objects of various sizes" in the ocean, about 2,700 kilometers (1,675 miles) southwest of Perth, said Anond Snidvongs, director of Thailand's space technology development agency.

He said the images, taken Monday by the Thaichote satellite, took two days to process and were relayed to Malaysian authorities on Wednesday.

The objects were about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the area where a French satellite on Sunday spotted 122 objects, and ranged in size from 2 meters (six feet) to 16 meters (53 feet) long, Anond said.

Satellite Finds 300 Floating Objects in Search for MH370

The announcement came after the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it had to pull back all 11 planes scheduled to take part in the search Thursday because of heavy rain, winds and low clouds. 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 (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, before the air search was suspended, AMSA spokesman Sam Cardwell said.

They were there "maybe two hours" and they did not find anything, Cardwell said.

"They got a bit of time in, but it was not useful because there was no visibility," he said.

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

Planes have been flying out of Perth for a week, looking without any success for objects spotted in vague satellite images, including the French one.

Finding them would give physical confirmation that Flight 370, which was scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, crashed. That would allow searchers to narrow the hunt for the wreckage of the Boeing 777 and its black boxes, which could solve the mystery of why the jet was so far off-course.

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 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.

The 122 objects captured by the French satellite ranged in size from 1 meter (3 feet) to 23 meters (75 feet) long, but the search for them and the objects from the Thai satellite will have to wait until the weather in the search area improves, echoing the frustration of earlier sweeps that failed to zero in on three objects spotted by satellites.

Experts cautioned that the area's frequent high seas and bad weather and its distance from land were complicating an already-trying 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."

Malaysia has been criticized over its handling of one of the most perplexing mysteries in aviation history. Much of the most strident criticism has come from relatives of the Chinese passengers, some of whom expressed outrage that Malaysia essentially declared their loved ones dead without recovering a single piece of wreckage.

China dispatched a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, to deal with the crisis. Zhang met with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Wednesday and received a briefing on the satellite data that "led to the conclusion that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," Malaysia's Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

On Thursday, Malaysian officials met with China's ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang, "to request the government of China to engage and clarify the actual situation to the affected families in particular and the Chinese public in general," the statement said.

Though officials say Flight 370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean, they don't know why it disappeared shortly after takeoff. 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.

On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey told members of Congress that his investigators should finish in a day or two their analysis of electronics owned by the pilot and co-pilot, work that includes trying to recover files deleted from a home flight simulator used by Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

Finding the wreckage and the plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders is a major challenge. It took two years to find the black box from Air France Flight 447, which went down in the Atlantic Ocean on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009, and searchers knew within days where that crash site was.

The Malaysian government statement said it was sending a team to Perth to assist with the search operation, but it did not give details.

The batteries on the recorders' "pingers" are designed to last 30 days. After that, the pings begin to fade in the same way that a flashlight with failing batteries begins to dim, said Chuck Schofield of Dukane Seacom Inc., a company that has provided Malaysia Airlines with pingers in the past. Schofield said the fading pings might last five days before the battery dies.

Once a general area is pinpointed for the wreckage, experts say salvagers will have to deal with ocean depths ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 meters (10,000 to 15,000 feet).


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

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Join the discussion

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cgpatton March 27 2014 at 10:56 AM

This has been an ongoing tragedy for some time. What makes search and rescue so incredibly difficult is the tiny size of the plane compared to the vast expanse of the ocean. Despite the extraordinary technical advances that have been made, Mother Nature will always have the upper hand. Always.

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sigmetsue March 27 2014 at 1:37 PM

Somebody needs to get an aircraft carrier down there in order to lengthen search times. The US has by far the most carriers - 19. Australia's is still under construction. Thailand and India have one each. France has 4.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
3 replies
estela92 March 28 2014 at 7:03 PM


Flag Reply +1 rate up
PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM March 27 2014 at 11:52 AM

Lost at sea use to be common; and people had to live with tragedy . now people live by complaining loudly and accept nothing . I guess that is good

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2 replies
PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM March 27 2014 at 11:54 AM

also flying is a lot safer then cars . if you believe that you probably believe psychiatry is gods gift to humanity

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
apk892 PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM March 27 2014 at 12:03 PM

well if you think about it, it is. Think about how many fatal car crashes you might here about in a weekend and then think about how often you hear about fatal plan accidents. Long story short: there are way more incidents involving cars every year than airplanes and, because of the huge number of cars and people who are allowed to drive, you are much more likely to get into a car accident than die in a plane crash.

Flag +1 rate up
rpthe1 PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM March 27 2014 at 2:57 PM

Thank you Tom Cruse

Flag +1 rate up
AzGrandma44 PSYCHiATRY is a SCAM March 27 2014 at 3:05 PM

They want to Sue & make ton's of money. Thats what are society has come to.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
hway395 March 27 2014 at 1:17 PM

For everyone curious as to WHAT searchers on the Indian Ocean have to deal with & why there's difficulty finding "stuff" you might google or go to YouTube videos for the MH370 Search Operation. That ocean has horrible conditions.


Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
frenchblue367 March 27 2014 at 1:11 PM

Did anyone think in 1912 when the Titanic went down that there would someday be the technology to find the hull of the ship in such a vast area?

Give it some time. Maybe not next year or next decade, if this aircraft is in the Indian Ocean, it will someday be found. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but someday.

Which leads me to add that if it's NOT at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, then hopefully it's not found sooner... in the air... over a major city loaded with weapons. I'll leave that thought right there...

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
Joe frenchblue367 March 27 2014 at 1:28 PM

You must have visited Roswell New Mexico? I hear Elvis is hiding there.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
j donley Joe March 27 2014 at 1:36 PM

I have visited Roswell, New Mexico. I didn't find Elvis, but I did see a huge tarmac, miles long, containing empty WWII airplane hanger after empty WWII hanger. Spooky.

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andsleet frenchblue367 March 27 2014 at 2:37 PM

They knew exactly where the Titanic went down. No mystery there. It was just a question of how instead of where.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
insurancehunter March 27 2014 at 1:01 PM

Anyone that clicks on one of these links from commenters is an idiot.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Elizabeth insurancehunter March 27 2014 at 8:37 PM

If you're talking about the posting of a YouTube video about 'data' ...you might have noticed that the poster suggested you 'go to YouTube and look at conditions in the Indian Ocean'. NO need to click on her actual link...she was merely attempting to educate the foolish. You might try it yourself..it's actually easy, just type in 'conditions in the Indian Ocean'. See how easy that is? And I didn't have to use very much of my critical thinking skills since it's purely logical. We ALL should have 'some' logic available to us even if it's fallen into disuse over the years.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
hway395 March 27 2014 at 12:35 PM

Earlier, someone was asking about the Indian Ocean weather conditions. I saw a video clip last night on TV. I also just located another clip on the following link in the event anyone is interested in the conditions these poor searchers have put themselves into.


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1 reply
karen and pitts hway395 March 27 2014 at 1:31 PM

okay okay okay enough already we get it the indian ocean is rough. we know we heard you the first 4 times. its rough got it made a note of it. believe you.

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1 reply
nuttberry karen and pitts March 27 2014 at 1:36 PM

You might believe hway395 but clearly many other people here think that this part of the ocean is like a calm pond in the middle of a major shipping lane. They have no idea of how remote and wild tis area of ocean is, so I for one thank hway395 for sharing.

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KITKATMOM1 March 27 2014 at 9:44 AM

No one is 100% sure, that debris is from the plane, that's been missing. The families, of the people on board that plane, should not have been told, that their people are dead, unless there was 100% proof to prove it. So far, the only thing they've been doing, is just guessing at what the debris is, that they are seeing on satellite images, which could be anything, including trash, floating in the ocean. If all that debris, turns out to be nothing but trash, then all that time they spent looking for it, has just been a waste of time. The plane went off radar, near the mountains and that's the area, where they should have searched, from the beginning.

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Mike March 27 2014 at 12:26 PM

Now you see why the NTSB never speculates when investigating a crash here in the states. There's a proper order to how to approach a crash investigation. First, you find it. Second, you confirm that you've found the right aircraft. Third, you collect all the evidence possible in a methodical manner, so that you can hopefully reconstruct what happened. Here, the confirmation and collection of evidence has been hampered by foul weather at sea. It may be days or weeks trying to recover pieces to this puzzle. We're being led to speculate on causes by the media, to keep people interested. It's not good investigative technique and it's not conducive to accurate findings. Let's let the authorities work to find what happened. It's not going to happen overnight.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
MooonFoxy Mike March 27 2014 at 12:40 PM

Amen I second every word you wrote. Very literate and accurate post.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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