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March 27, 2014

Searchers still hunting for downed plane

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — More satellite images have given searchers the latest clues in the hunt for the downed Malaysian jetliner, as planes flew out of Australia on Thursday trying to spot 122 objects seen floating in the turbulent Indian Ocean where officials believe the missing passenger jet may have crashed.

Almost two-thirds of the 239 people who died on the flight were from China, and the first search plane in the air was a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft. In total, 11 planes and five ships are set to scour a search area 1,550 miles southwest of Perth on Australia’s western coast, but the Australian Maritime Safety Authority cautioned that weather was expected to deteriorate later today.

Nineteen days into the mystery of Flight 370 that vanished early March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the discovery of the objects that ranged in size from 3 feet to 75 feet offered “the most credible lead that we have,” a top Malaysian official said Wednesday.

A search Wednesday for the objects was unsuccessful, echoing the frustration of earlier sweeps that failed to zero in on three objects seen by satellites.

With the search in motion, Malaysian officials again sought to assuage the angry relatives of the flight’s 153 Chinese passengers. But Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also expressed exasperation, pointedly saying Chinese families “must also understand that we in Malaysia also lost our loved ones,” as did “so many other nations.”

— AP

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