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MH370 jetliner searchers rule out search area where 'pings' were detected


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Investigators searching for the missing Malaysian jet have concluded an area where acoustic signals were detected is not the final resting place of the plane after an unmanned submersible found no trace of it, the search coordinator said Thursday.

The U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21 finished its final underwater mission in the southern Indian Ocean on Wednesday after scouring 850 square kilometers (330 square miles), the Joint Agency Coordination Center said.

"The area can now be discounted as the final resting place" of the missing plane, the Australia-based center said in a statement.

The underwater search for the airliner, which vanished March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, will be suspended for a couple months while more powerful sonar equipment is brought in to search a much wider area of 56,000 square kilometers (21,600 square miles), based on analysis of satellite data of the plane's most likely course, the center said.

That analysis has led authorities to believe that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 diverted sharply from its flight path and flew south to the Indian Ocean. But not a single piece of the missing Boeing 777 has been found in one of aviation's most baffling mysteries.

The news comes after the U.S. Navy dismissed an American expert's reported comments that acoustic "pings" heard in April did not come from the jet's black boxes.

CNN reported that the Navy's civilian deputy director of ocean engineering, Michael Dean, said most countries now agreed that the sounds detected by the Navy's Towed Pinger Locator came from a man-made source unrelated to the jet.

"Mike Dean's comments today were speculative and premature, as we continue to work with our partners to more thoroughly understand the data acquired by the Towed Pinger Locator," U.S. Navy spokesman Chris Johnson said in a statement, referring to Australia and Malaysia.

Dean, who is based in Washington, could not be immediately reached for comment.

In an emailed response to questions, the joint coordination agency said it was still examining the signals, but acknowledged: "We may never know the origin of the acoustic detections."

The agency would not yet reveal the next most likely crash site, saying that "will be made public in due course."

Transport Minister Warren Truss said authorities would continue to analyze the sounds that led to the initial search area.

"We concentrated the search in that area because the pings, the information we received, was the best information available at the time and that's all you can do in circumstances like this, to follow the very best leads," Truss told Parliament in announcing the search's failure.

"We're still very confident that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern ocean and along" the course indicated by satellite analysis, he added.

Opposition lawmaker Tony Burke offered his party's condolences to the victims' families. "The hopes of many have been dashed," he told Parliament.

Officials had described the detection of four series of "pings" in the area that the satellite data indicated was the likely crash site as their best lead in the search. The signals appeared to be consistent with those from aircraft black boxes, which contain flight data and cockpit voice recordings. The locator beacons have a battery life of about a month, and the sounds were detected near the end of that expected lifespan for Flight 370's beacons.

Earlier this week, the Malaysian government released reams of raw satellite data it used to determine that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean, a step long demanded by the families of some of the passengers on board. The conclusion is based on complex calculations derived largely from brief hourly transmissions, or "handshakes," between the plane and a communications satellite operated by the British company Inmarsat.

But while the 45 pages of information may help satisfy a desire for more transparency in a much criticized investigation, experts say it's unlikely to solve the mystery of Flight 370. Theories range from mechanical failure to hijacking or pilot murder-suicide.

The families of the victims - many of whom have been highly critical of the Malaysian government and, in the absence of any wreckage, have been unwilling to accept that their loved ones are dead - had been asking for the raw satellite data for many weeks so it could be examined by independent experts. Malaysia initially balked at doing so, but then reconsidered.

Join the discussion

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G J Lavelle May 29 2014 at 10:07 AM

My guess is that the plane landed in Pakistan or Afghanistan and will be fitted to look like another plane to commit the ultimate terrorist attack. I hope we are ready to assess that possibility.

Flag Reply +56 rate up
26 replies
tmccull52 May 29 2014 at 10:25 AM

The key piece of info that no one is talking about is the fact that no one associated with this search knows what the Hell that they're doing.

Flag Reply +30 rate up
9 replies
maggiemaysss May 29 2014 at 10:33 AM

Maybe if they had listened to witnesses that actually saw something instead of all the "experts" we wouldn't be in this situation today. But no, they were all "dismissed", now millions of dollars later, it is "oooops"...how sad.

Flag Reply +30 rate up
3 replies
lichwala May 29 2014 at 10:58 AM

Malaysia should pay for the costs of the search to the international community since they have kept with holding information since the beginning and sending everyone on a wild goose chase.

Flag Reply +29 rate up
3 replies
beachbum0423 May 29 2014 at 10:40 AM

It's 2014 NOT 1932, losing a plane isn't even possible in this day and age with all the technology that is available...wake up America

Flag Reply +21 rate up
10 replies
kgunfever May 29 2014 at 10:50 AM

its in pakie.it will show up soon.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
2 replies
woe_is_me kgunfever May 29 2014 at 2:12 PM

No, Aliens took it to Mars in preparation for world domination

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
KZMike woe_is_me May 29 2014 at 3:24 PM

The planet of Mars domination

Flag 0 rate up
frank.foreman kgunfever May 29 2014 at 7:20 PM

Yeah , it's at the Pakistani military base where Osama was hiding out with his 13" black and white tv and corded remote control VCR.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Joe Baricev May 29 2014 at 10:43 AM

United States should ban all flights in or out of US on Malaysian Airlines until this mystery has been solved....we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg

Flag Reply +17 rate up
6 replies
eaglephoenix2 May 29 2014 at 11:16 AM

can it be mocked up to look like Air Force One? Think of the ruse that could be pulled there.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
3 replies
bambi4318.barbara May 29 2014 at 10:42 AM

Looking in the wrong place, I don't want to say "I told you so" but I just did anyway.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
Norm bambi4318.barbara May 29 2014 at 6:26 PM

i hope this plane is not setting on one of those jungle air strips we constructed over thre,
and being outfitted for a terror attack it's quite possible and someone sure has covered their
tracks so far forget everything else this plane has to be found and the whole world needs to be involved

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
Mitchell Forman Norm May 30 2014 at 1:52 AM

You're right Norm. But I've looked EVERYWHERE and haven't seen a trace of it yet!

Flag 0 rate up
sandsvegas Norm May 30 2014 at 2:52 AM

What we have here is a failure to communicate. Have you heard the one about the chicken that crossed the street? Everyone was asking the same question, over and over. Fact is, he didn't know it was a street, he was just out walking.

Flag 0 rate up
aljoramaggio May 29 2014 at 1:16 PM

This June, it will be 45 years since we sent 3 men to the Moon, in a tiny space capsule, with a primitive computer system, and tracked them there and back.
In 2014, we cannot locate a much larger jetliner, over a much smaller area, with 239 people aboard, and 21st century technology.
Something is definitely amiss with this scenario.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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