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British submarine joins search for missing Malaysian plane

In the U.S., FBI investigators find nothing suspicious about the Malaysian pilot's home flight simulator, an official says.

April 02, 2014|By Julie Makinen
  • A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion rescue flight crew member searches the Indian Ocean for debris Wednesday.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion rescue flight crew member searches… (Kim Christian / Pool Photo )

BEIJING — A British submarine joined the search Wednesday for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet as Malaysian police said their investigation of the 227 passengers found no personal or psychological problems or motivation to hijack or sabotage the aircraft.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the pilot, copilot and 10 other crew members for clues to how and why Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished March 8 en route to Beijing, police Inspector-General Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told Bernama, the Malaysian state news agency. Investigators had said they believed the jet's disappearance was the result of deliberate action by someone on board.

An unnamed senior U.S. official told ABC News on Wednesday that FBI investigators had found nothing suspicious about a homemade flight simulator seized from the home of the pilot and sent to the agency's labs in Quantico, Va., for examination.

On Thursday, eight military planes and nine ships were participating in the search for the Boeing 777 in the Indian Ocean. One plane was to drop marker buoys within the search area, Australian authorities said. Thursday's 86,000-square-mile search area was more than 1,000 miles northwest of Perth, Australia.

Wednesday's search turned up no evidence of aircraft debris.

The Tireless, a Trafalgar Class submarine that has joined the hunt, has advanced underwater search capabilities, Australian officials said. The British navy vessel Echo, a hydrographic survey ship, also was participating in the search.

An Australian vessel towing an acoustic detector that could pick up transmissions from the plane's cockpit voice and flight data recorders has apparently not arrived in the search area.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was due to visit Perth on Wednesday and Thursday to be briefed by Angus Houston, who is coordinating the Australian-led search. Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines officials in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, held a closed-door briefing for family members of the missing passengers, the majority of whom were Chinese nationals.

Houston said investigators were continuing to try to narrow the search area based on their analysis of satellite and other data but the task remained an extremely challenging one.

"We don't have a precise aircraft location for six hours before the aircraft went into the water somewhere," Houston said in a radio interview Wednesday. "So it's a very difficult task for the search coordination centers in Malaysia and also in Australia, [with] no precise data from which to start the search."

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