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Malaysia seeks more U.S. help in hunt for missing plane

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia asked the United States to supply undersea surveillance equipment Friday to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as lighter weekend winds promised to settle the roiled seas in the remote search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein asked for the additional U.S. equipment in a telephone conversation with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The Pentagon did not say whether it would grant Hishammuddin's request, but a spokesman said the United States was committed to funding its share of the search for several more weeks.

"As of now, we've set aside $4 million to aid in the search," said Army Col. Steve Warren. "Based on our current expenditures, we expect these funds will last until sometime in the beginning of April."

If evidence of the missing plane is not found by then, there is doubt that it ever will be located. If it crashed into the ocean west of Australia, as officials believe, any debris floating on the surface a month after its March 8 disappearance could be hundreds of miles from where the plane went down.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people aboard took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing.

"The last report I have is that nothing of particular significance has been identified in the search today, but the work will continue," said Warren Truss, Australia's acting prime minister while Prime Minister Tony Abbott visits Papua New Guinea.

Grainy satellite images captured Sunday and published by Australia on Thursday showed two large objects bobbing in the ocean about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth. Officials called these images the most credible lead yet in the investigation. But there is no guarantee that the objects, around 80 and 15 feet long, have not sunk by now.

After being buffeted by high winds and rolling seas, searchers in aircraft and ships welcomed a forecast of lighter winds and a quieter ocean today. The prediction was for the wind to drop to about 7 mph and the waves to decline in size to 8 feet. The forecast for Sunday turns sour again.

Malaysia seeks more U.S. help in hunt for missing plane 03/21/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:50pm]
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