MH370 update: 'Highly likely' plane was on autopilot when it flew into ocean, officials said

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Missing Flight MH370 April 7 going forward
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MH370 update: 'Highly likely' plane was on autopilot when it flew into ocean, officials said
This photo illustration shows a journalist looking on the data communication logs from British satellite operator Inmarsat and released by Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in Kuala Lumpur on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on May 27, 2014. Malaysia's aviation authority released on May 27 the satellite data used to determine that flight MH370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean following demands from sceptical relatives of those on board. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man stands in front of a billboard in support of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have a meeting at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing on April 23, 2014. The hunt for physical evidence that the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in the Indian Ocean more than three weeks ago has turned up nothing, despite a massive operation involving seven countries and repeated sightings of suspected debris.. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
In this picture taken May 14, 2014 a Malaysia Airlines staff walks up to a flight prior to departure at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. Malaysia Airlines is expected to announce its first quarter earnings after a bruising period since Flight 370 vanished. AFP PHOTO/ Manan VATSYAYANA. (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken on May 5, 2014 the Phoenix Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Artemis Bluefin-21, is shown on the deck of the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield berthed at Fleet Base West near Perth as it prepared to resupply and undertake routine maintenance. Ocean Shield, with the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle on board, was due to head back on May 10 to the remote area of ocean off Western Australia to continue searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
The attached map shows MH370’s flight path, based on the best available knowledge of the investigation team. There are a number of possible flight paths to the southern Indian Ocean, and three boxes indicating where MH370 likely ended. These flight paths differ based on different projections of the aircraft’s speed, shown on the map in knots.
The attached map shows MH370’s flight path, based on the best available knowledge of the investigation team. There are a number of possible flight paths to the southern Indian Ocean, and three boxes indicating where MH370 likely ended. These flight paths differ based on different projections of the aircraft’s speed, shown on the map in knots.
The attached map shows MH370’s flight path, based on the best available knowledge of the investigation team. There are a number of possible flight paths to the southern Indian Ocean, and three boxes indicating where MH370 likely ended. These flight paths differ based on different projections of the aircraft’s speed, shown on the map in knots.

Photo of a map provided by GeoResonance, which claimed on Tuesday April 29, 2014, that it found wreckage thought to possibly be from missing Flight MH370. The photo was posted to Twitter by user Cristina Lombardi.

GeoResonance A graphic shows images depicting underwater "anomalies" suggesting deposits of various metals #MH370 http://t.co/qi2aUlzE1z

Photo of a map provided by GeoResonance, which claimed on Tuesday April 29, 2014, that it found wreckage thought to possibly be from missing Flight MH370. The photo was posted to Twitter by user Jickson Johnson.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: A South Korean P3 Orion aircraft takes off from Pearce Airbase, in Bullsbrook, 35 kms north of Perth to help in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on April 17, 2014 in Perth, Australia. Twenty-six nations have been involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 since it disappeared more than a month ago. The Malaysian Airways aircraft went missing on 8th March 2014 whilst on a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. (Photo by Greg Pool - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 17: In this handout image provided by Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence, Phoenix Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Artemis begins its dive in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on April 17, 2014. Twenty-six nations have been involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 since it disappeared more than a month ago. The Malaysian Airways aircraft went missing on 8th March 2014 whilst on a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. (Photo by LSIS Bradley Darvill/Australia Department of Defence via Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 26: Malaysia's Minister of Defence and acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein (C) is viewed through a lens as he speaks during a press conference on March 26, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The search for flight MH370 resumes today after rought winds and high swells prevented crews from searching for debris yesterday. Six countries have joined the search, now considered to be a recovery effort, after authorities have announced that airliner crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean and that there are no survivors. (Photo by Rahman Roslan/Getty Images)
Malaysia's Minister of Defence and Acting Transport Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein (L) looks at maps as Director General of Civil Aviation Department (DCA) Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (R) answers questions during a press conference at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 17, 2013. An investigation into the pilots of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 intensified on March 17 after officials confirmed that the last words spoken from the cockpit came after a key signalling system was manually disabled. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
US navy captain Mark Matthews (C) speaks with journalists following a media conference involving Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre in Perth on April 9, 2014 on the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Australian ship Ocean Shield detected two more signals on April 8 to match a pair of transmissions picked up earlier in the week that have been analysed as consistent with flight data recorder emissions, Angus Houston said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
Flight MH370's pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10 : A handout image released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) in Canberra, Australia, 10 April 2014, shows the search area and Sonobuoy search area where 14 planes and 13 ships are scouring a 57,923 square km area of ocean for the wreckage of flight MH370 on 10 April 2014.Flight MH370 went missing after losing radio contact with Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8. The Beijing-bound flight carried 239 passengers including 12 flight crew from 14 different countries. (Photo by AMSA/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Angus Houston (2nd-L), head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre leading the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 speaks at a media conference in Perth on April 9, 2014. Australian ship Ocean Shield detected two more signals on April 8 to match a pair of transmissions picked up earlier in the week that have been analysed as consistent with flight data recorder emissions, Houston said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
A graphic of the area being searched for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, is displayed during a media conference involving Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre in Perth on April 9, 2014. Australian ship Ocean Shield detected two more signals on April 8 to match a pair of transmissions picked up earlier in the week that have been analysed as consistent with flight data recorder emissions, Houston said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre leading the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, points to a graphic of the search area during a media conference in Perth on April 7, 2014. An Australian navy ship has detected new underwater signals consistent with aircraft black boxes, Houston said on April 7, describing it as the 'most promising lead' so far in the month-old hunt for missing Flight MH370. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre leading the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, displays a graphic of the search area during a media conference in Perth on April 7, 2014. An Australian navy ship has detected new underwater signals consistent with aircraft black boxes, Houston said on April 7, describing it as the 'most promising lead' so far in the month-old hunt for missing Flight MH370. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
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BY LINCOLN FEAST

(Reuters) - Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was most likely on autopilot when it crashed into the Indian Ocean further south than previously thought, Australian officials said on Thursday, as they charted the next phase of a so far fruitless search.

The new analysis comes more than 100 days after the Boeing 777, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared on March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing.

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Investigators say what little evidence they have to work with suggests the plane was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean.

MH370 Likely On Autopilot Before Crash

The search was narrowed in April after a series of acoustic pings thought to be from the plane's black box recorders were heard along a final arc where analysis of satellite data put its last location.

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But a month later, officials conceded the wreckage was not in that concentrated area, some 1,600 km (1,000 miles) off the northwest coast of Australia, and the search area would have to be expanded.

"The new priority area is still focused on the seventh arc, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite. We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along the arc," Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters in Canberra.

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Truss said the area was determined after a review of satellite data, early radar information and aircraft performance limits after the plane diverted across the Malaysian peninsula and headed south into one of the remotest areas of the planet.

"It is highly, highly likely that the aircraft was on autopilot otherwise it could not have followed the orderly path that has been identified through the satellite sightings," Truss said.

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The next phase of the search is expected to start in August and take a year, covering some 60,000 sq km at a cost of A$60 million ($56 million) or more. The search is already the most expensive in aviation history.

The new priority search area is around 2,000 km west of Perth, a stretch of isolated ocean frequently lashed by storm force winds and massive swells.

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In a 55-page report, the Australian Transport Safety Board outlined a how investigators had narrowed down the possible final resting place from thousands of possible routes, while noting the absence of communications and the steady flight path.

"Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370's flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction," the ATSB report said.

Two vessels, one Chinese and one from Dutch engineering company Fugro (FUGRc.AS), are currently mapping the sea floor along the arc, where depths exceed 5,000 metres in parts.

A tender to find a commercial operator to conduct the sea floor search closes on Monday.

33 PHOTOS
Families Sobbing, Malaysia Missing Plane
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MH370 update: 'Highly likely' plane was on autopilot when it flew into ocean, officials said
A relative of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yells at a security personnel while she attends a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (C) of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yells at a security personnel (R) while she attends a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical personnel assist a person while relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (C) of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she participates in a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical personnel assist a person while relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest with plarcards outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A grieving relative (C) of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is comforted by others as they protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest with a plarcard (C) reading 'we want the truth' outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
People assist a relative (C) who fainted during a protest, held by the relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A grieving Chinese relative of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yells to journalists as they gather to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 march to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 march to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 march to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are removed by bus after their protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are removed by bus after their protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Riot police block grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as they protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 25: Chinese relatives of the passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 clash with Chinese police outside the Malaysian Embassy on March 25, 2014 in Beijing, China. Hundreds of protesters, including many relatives of missing flight MH370 passengers, marched on the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing demanding answers from Malaysian authorities about the fate of the flight. The Prime Minister of Malaysia announced yesterday that new data showed the flight had crashed into the Southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are removed by bus after their protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk past a paramilitary police barricade as they gather to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 try to remove a police barricade blocking journalists as they gather to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (L) of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries after hearing the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean at a hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 waves her fist as she cries after hearing the news that the plane plunged into the Indian Ocean at a hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is taken away by medical personnel after being told the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (C) of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is taken away by medical personnel after being told the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as he walks out of a hotel hall at after hearing the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leave after being told that the missing airliner had crashed in the Indian Ocean at the Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014. Tears and cries of inconsolable pain and loss echoed from a Beijing hotel ballroom as the relatives of MH370 passengers learned the news: their loved ones were dead. Some clung on to other family members for crumbs of comfort as they left the room where they were told the Malaysia Airlines flight had ended, incontestably, in the remote southern Indian Ocean. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of victims from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane cries while awaiting updates at a hotel in Putrajaya on March 11, 2014. Malaysia has expanded its search area for a missing jet after three days of scouring the sea failed to bring forth any confirmed sightings of wreckage, an official said. He added that besides searching in waters between Malaysia and Vietnam, authorities were also searching on land in Malaysia and off western Malaysia. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman (R) breaks down while leaving the reception centre for families and friends after an airliner went missing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8, 2014. Malaysia and Vietnam on March 8 led a search for a Malaysia Airlines jet that has gone missing over Southeast Asia, as fears mounted over the fate of the 239 people aboard. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A crying woman is escorted to a bus for relatives at the Beijing Airport after news of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane on March 8, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early on March 8, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A possible relative cries at the Beijing Airport after news of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane in Beijing on March 8, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early on March 8, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Additional reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Nick Macfie and Nick Macfie)

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