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Australia hopeful as more items pulled from sea

PERTH, Australia (AP) -- Australia's prime minister said Sunday that he was hopeful a clue will emerge soon to narrow the hunt for Flight 370, as more objects were pulled from the southern Indian Ocean and checked to see whether they were part of the plane that went missing more than three weeks ago.

So far, even though more ships are scouring the area off western Australia, none of the recovered items has been connected to the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed March 8 with 239 people on board.

"My understanding from this morning is that there has been no discrete debris associated with the flight," Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy told reporters Sunday.

In Sydney, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the "intensifying search effort" as positive because objects "have been recovered from the ocean."

The Australian Maritimes Safety Authority said 10 planes took part in the search Sunday, leaving in staggered times from the western city of Perth. Eight ships were on the scene, including the Australian navy supply ship HMAS Success, which is to store any wreckage found.

The ships are trying to locate and identify the objects sighted by aircraft over the past two days.

Leavy, the commander of the search task force, said the operation was made more difficult because the particular area being combed is in a shipping lane and may be littered with floating objects.

AMSA said there were light showers and low clouds in the area, but not enough to disrupt the search, which is about 2 1/2 hours flying time from Perth, allowing the planes five hours to search before they have to return to base.

Among the objects spotted over the last day were three by a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 plane that were white, red and orange, according to a report from China's official Xinhua News Agency said. The missing Boeing 777's exterior was red, white, blue and gray.

In Malaysia, several dozen Chinese relatives of passengers of Flight 370 demanded Sunday that the Malaysian government apologize for its handling of the search for the plane and for the prime minister's statement saying it crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

Holding up banners that read "We want evidence, truth, dignity" in Chinese, and "Hand us the murderer. Tell us the truth. Give us our relatives back" in English, the group staged a protest at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur just hours after flying in from Beijing.

Two-thirds of the 227 passengers aboard the plane, which disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, were Chinese, and China has urged Malaysia to be more open about the investigation.

One of the relatives, who gave only his surname, Xu, said they want to meet officials "at the very highest levels."

Newly analyzed satellite data shifted the search zone on Friday, raising expectations that searchers may be closer to getting physical evidence that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean. The change came after analysts determined that the Boeing 777 may have been traveling faster than earlier estimates and would therefore have run out of fuel sooner.

That would narrow the hunt for the wreckage and the plane's black boxes, which should contain clues to what caused the plane to be so far off-course.

An Australian warship with an aircraft black box detector was set to depart Sunday to join the search. It will still take three to four days for the ship, the Ocean Shield, to reach the search zone - an area roughly the size of Poland about 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) to the west of Australia.

"The ship will take part in the surface search until the debris is positively identified and an underwater search area is then predicted," U.S. Navy Captain Mark Matthews told reporters in Perth.

The Ocean Shield will be equipped with a black box detector - the U.S. Navy's Towed Pinger Locator - and an unmanned underwater vehicle, as well as other acoustic detection equipment.

But even if investigators can determine that the plane went down in the newly targeted search zone, recovery of its flight data and cockpit voice recorders could be complicated.

The seafloor within the search area is covered in squishy sediment and is generally flat, save for a steep slope and trench near its southern end.

Unless the plane's fuselage went down the slope or into the trench, the underwater geography should not hinder the search. The area is dominated by Broken Ridge, a plateau where depths range from as shallow as about 800 meters (2,625 feet) to about 3,000 meters (9,843 feet).

At the edge of the plateau closest to Antarctica is the Diamantina trench, which seafloor mappers have found is as deep as 5,800 meters (19,000 feet), though it could be deeper in places that have not been measured.

Matthews said the Navy's ping locator has the "capability to do search and recovery operations down to a depth of 20,000 feet."

Data on the black boxes may help investigators solve what has become one of aviation's big mysteries - what happened to Flight 370, with speculation ranging from equipment failure and a botched hijacking to terrorism or an act by one of the pilots.

Australian Prime Minister Abbott also announced that a former Australian defense chief, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, will lead a new center in Perth to coordinate the international search effort.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
joeknowswoodies March 30 2014 at 10:12 AM

So much for all the so called "experts"

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cvanac8550 March 30 2014 at 11:23 AM

A month prior to this incident 2 former navy seals found dead of reported drug overdose. Both seals are described by family and friends as straight laced family guys. Story not followed up in the media and falls off the radar screen.
Death of these " security contractors" takes place on the island of Seychelles in the Eastern Indian Ocean. An island chain with numerous atolls. Truth sometime is stranger then fiction......
Just one more piece if intrigue to throw in the mix.......

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1 reply
lovieperkins cvanac8550 March 30 2014 at 4:18 PM

what work were the seals on ? usually they are so well trained & fit that drugs would not be in their lives at all... looks like espionage ???

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Greg March 30 2014 at 11:10 AM

Ok these are the facts as I know them today...
1) A plane carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared over 3 weeks ago without sending any distress signals and after someone or something disabled the tracking mechanism on the plane.
2) They still have no idea to the nature of the disappearance (i.e. mechanical failure, hijacking, terrorism, pilot suicide, etc...)
3) They made a statement to the families that they believe it went down in the ocean and there are no survivors, yet they still have no idea where in the ocean it went down and haven't even found 1 piece of debris from the plane to justify their conclusion to the families.
4) Now they discribe the "intensifying search effort" as positive because objects "have been recovered from the ocean." (Just not any objects that are related to the flight!) What's positive about that?
5) The fact that they are just now sending a black box ping locator out just incase they do find some debris only verifies the fact that they have no clue where the plane might be or they would have sent it long ago.
So let me sum everything up... THEY STILL HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE!

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midlifer49 March 30 2014 at 10:12 AM

It's "ROLE", not "ROLL"!!

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1 reply
Star midlifer49 March 30 2014 at 10:16 AM

Good catch. I only skimmed the caption and I did this professionally (journalism grad). I'm sure most of these readers will have no idea.

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2 replies
jdu7155024 Star March 30 2014 at 10:24 AM

What a judgmental and moronic statement

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sdshantasi Star March 30 2014 at 11:19 AM

More people than you think will notice and most of them will be more understanding of the error.

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Gracie GirL March 30 2014 at 9:01 AM

I hope they find something even Amelia Earharts plane.

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cclemen March 30 2014 at 9:02 AM

How can you turn off these transponders anyway. Didn't we lose 4 airplanes on 9/11 because the transponders were truned off? Why can these even be turned off?

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2 replies
Just Dropping By cclemen March 30 2014 at 9:17 AM

They weren't turned off, The people in the control tower fell asleep.

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lovieperkins cclemen March 30 2014 at 5:11 PM

Amazing, I understood that HLS did their job, to divert any future attacks... and to miss that control of turning off the transponders , possibly allowing another attack is disgraceful & incompetant.....this should then have been 'blocked'. ????

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Golden Moose March 30 2014 at 11:04 AM

I have the utmost sympathy for the friends and family of the missing people. That being said: the Malaysian is not in an enviable position. No matter what the government or airline execs do or don't do, say or don't say, try or don't try, (You get the idea.) they are 'wrong' and making people upset/mad. This is not to say some blatant mistakes weren't made, however, in this world of technology, people expect everything to be explainable and explainable RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, (Or fortunately.), humans aren't perfect and never will be perfect. My thoughts on the disaster is that every nation is doing their best to help locate the plane. The citizens of said nations are the ones paying for the search efforts. So ya know, maybe the friends and family of the missing people could show a little gratitude for that, and give up ridiculing, yelling and protesting. Nothing good comes from their spending energy in such a negative manner; no ones giving up the search.

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maxcranium March 30 2014 at 10:45 AM

Wild Goose...

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jspfarm March 30 2014 at 10:33 AM

It is really ironic that the Chinese people are making all of these demands as if they are the only one's who lost loved ones in this apparent tragedy and are all making these demands for apologies and meetings with the highest ranking officials to obtain "answers and closure". Right now there are no answers, everyone is equally in the dark, no one is being ignored, no one is being misdirected intentionally. Malaysia is not a "super power" with unlimited technology, they are not psychic's, they are in way over their heads with this that is why the rest of the world has stepped up to help.
The irony of it all to me is when I hear the Chinese families demanding that these government officials cater to their demands, they most certainly wouldn't get very far trying that with their own government, their government tells them what to think, when to think it, how many kids they can have, and controls all aspects of their lives, with absolutely no dissent allowed, in fact their government has been given everything the searchers know, yet the government does nothing to answer any of their questions, again, quite simply, because there are no answers, it may be that like some of the other posters here have said, that the plane was taken by terrorists, or as the searchers believe, it crashed into the ocean. We may never know what happened, kind of like the mysteries of the planes lost in the "Bermuda Triangle", but it is certainly not for a lack of effort on the part of so many countries.
Instead of complaining, the Chinese people need to be grateful for all of the help and prayers they are receiving in an attempt to help them find their lost loved ones, I know they are hurting right now, and many others are hurting with them, stop blaming everyone for their loss, these people have lost people too, stop accusing, stop demanding, if the search isn't going fast enough for you, get yourself a boat and get out there and help find these answers you want, otherwise, do what the rest of the world is doing, let the experts do their jobs, and keep praying for a miracle.

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1 reply
Dan Daily jspfarm March 30 2014 at 10:55 AM

The Chinese people are very physical. The Government forced them to be this way. That's why you see so many "party" higher ups always getting the death penality. (even though they rarely die) If the people ever rose up, the Government would be gone and dead in an hour. The people know this, and so does the Government. In fact, this particular Government has been in power the longest of any other. (I think) So, the central government has been on borrowed time.

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1 reply
James M. Adams Dan Daily March 30 2014 at 11:00 AM

But they never looked hulked out. Usually spindly arms.

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Hello Diane March 30 2014 at 10:32 AM

I have decided that I am as nuts as some of these comments I have been reading! I would love to know who did what to whom in what area of the plane, ocean, air, but damn, God forgot to clue me in and I lost my clairvoyant card! So I read these comments and wonder why people say some of the awful things they do, and why people respond to them.....then I got it........because people like me are reading and commenting. I might as well be an ambulance chaser! How deplorable! With that said, I want to say a final time that lives have been lost, innocent lives, BUT we have lost lives in the US. We have a mudslide to deal with, death, destruction and families WHO DO NOT KNOW and do not have closure. It is my opinion that the government needs to focus their efforts there and help those people. If I were a family wondering if my mom or dad was buried under that damn mud and my government was chasing a missing plane I would be furious. On the other side of this...........maybe the government does know way more than they are saying and they are working fast and furiously to side step a disaster. I do not need you to tell me, just take care of it.

I know many of us are suspicious of our government, I understand, but although they do some underhanded things at times, and are asses, it is the best thing going. There are so many things that happen every day that the average American Citizen knows nothing about. It is quietly handled by the CIA, FBI or some other agency that doesn't exist( sarcasm). I have to trust that they are doing what needs to be done and we don't need to know. How are we going to out smart the enemy when we blab it all over the news? Sure, let me tell you what we think and where we have the plane, not a problem, you wont change your plans will you? Reporters would sell their mothers for a story, and if another person says, I will tell you on condition of anonymity, they should be court marshaled!

Ok, I'm done complaining now--maybe.

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3 replies
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