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Only ‘Ocean Junk’ Found So Far As Search For Jet Continues

The state of the now 24-day-old search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet and the 239 people on board can be summed by these three reports:

-- "Objects sighted at sea on Sunday by an Australian Orion searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been identified as fishing buoys, nets and other ocean junk." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

-- "Four orange items considered 'the most promising leads' yet in the search for MH370 are in fact fishing equipment, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has confirmed. ... 'Yesterday's finds were nothing of note, nothing related to the plane,' an AMSA spokesman said." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

-- "#MH370 search operations have concluded for today. All aircraft returning, nothing significant to report. Search will resume tomorrow." (AMSA statement on Twitter at 7:28 a.m. ET on Monday.)

So, there's still no sign of the jet. Meanwhile, it's thought the battery that runs the "pinger" in the plane's black box has less than a week of power left. Searchers are hoping they can pick up its signal before then, but finding it in waters that are several miles deep will be extremely difficult unless they can determine more precisely where the jet likely came down.

Background

The Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared in the early hours of March 8, local time, which was midday March 7 on the East Coast of the U.S. Bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 passengers and crew, it was over the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam when the last message from the cockpit to air traffic controllers — "all right, good night" — was heard.

Investigators believe the plane then turned sharply to the west, flew back over the Malay Peninsula and headed south over the Indian Ocean. It may have been in the air for six or seven more hours. Theories about what happened vary widely, from some sort of catastrophe on board that disabled the crew to a hijacking.

The search is not concentrated on an area about 1,100 miles west of Perth, Australia. Aircraft and ships from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea, Malaysia and the U.S. are among those taking part in the operation.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/

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