Tag Archives: Beijing

​China, Russia to hold first-ever Mediterranean naval exercise

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Chinese and Russian naval vessels are seen during Joint Sea-2014 naval exercise outside Shanghai on the East China Sea, May 23, 2014

The Russian and Chinese Navies are to hold a joint exercise in the Mediterranean Sea in mid-May, a first in that part of the world. A total of nine warships from the two countries are to participate, Beijing said.

“The aim is to deepen both countries’ friendly and practical cooperation, and increase our navies’ ability to jointly deal with maritime security threats,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said on Thursday in a monthly news briefing.

“What needs saying is that these exercises are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the regional situation,” he added, saying that the Chinese Navy would contribute its warships currently on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.

Russia and China have previously held joint naval exercises in the Pacific in waters they both have direct access to. The Mediterranean Sea Cooperation-2015 drill would focus on navigation safety, at-sea replenishment, escort missions and live fire exercises, Geng said.

Moscow and Beijing are intensifying defense cooperation as both countries oppose US criticism of its military policies. China is being accused of aggressive deployments in the South China Sea, where it is contesting territories with several regional nations. The PLA’s Navy and Air Force have been increasingly at odds with Japan and South Korea, key American allies.

Russia has been subjected to economic sanctions over its position in Ukraine which, according to Washington, is threatening its NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

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147 killed in attack on Kenyan university dormitories by al-Shabab

Militants stormed dormitories at Garissa University, killing at least 147 people and taking others as hostages

NAIROBI — Masked al-Shabab militants stormed dormitories at a university in northeastern Kenya early Thursday, killing at least 147 people in the worst terror attack on Kenyan soil in nearly two decades, officials said.

More than 500 students were rescued after the Islamist militants, heavily armed and strapped with explosives, attacked the campus of Garissa University College around 5:30 a.m. local time, shooting some young people and taking others hostage. At least 79 people were injured, according to Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Center.

A government spokesman said the siege ended after 15 hours, with four gunmen from the Somali group having been killed.

“The gunmen are dead. There were four; they are all dead,” said Abdulkadir Sugow, spokesman for the Garissa governor. However, he could not confirm how they were killed.

“The fire exchange has now stopped,” Sugow said. “The next step is to reconcile, and to analyze the way forward.” Security forces have yet to enter the university compound, he continued. “Nothing can be ascertained fully,” he said.

A Kenyan soldier takes cover as shots are fired in front of Garissa University in Garissa town, northeast of the capital Nairobi

Outside the university, in the city of Garissa about 90 miles from the Somali border, confusion and tension dominated. Scores of students remained unaccounted for; many had jumped through a fence to escape the campus.

The gunmen had been holed up in the compound with an unconfirmed number of hostages. When they were shot by police, they exploded “like bombs,” said Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary, Joseph Nkaissery.

Ogutu Vquee, a student at the university, was sleeping in his dormitory when the gunmen arrived. He said there was indiscriminate shooting of both Muslims and non-Muslims, though there were reports that Muslims had been separated from Christians, who were targeted. “When they attacked us, most of us were asleep, so we were woken by the gunshots,” he said. “I am totally in fear and confusion.”

Rosalind Mugambi said she fled her dormitory in a panic, dodging gunfire. While she had been able to run across the sandy ground into a surrounding field, some of her friends had fallen. “We saw some blood stains, and they were shot,” she said.

A 19-year-old student from Nairobi, who asked not to be named, said that he transferred from Garissa University College to Nairobi after threats of an al-Shabab attack circulated in December. “Everybody had to go home because there was a lot of tension. Shabab was saying they were going to attack the school in one week’s time, so we went home. It was rumors, but we had to vacate.”

He said the students left in mid-December, missing the end-of-semester exams. “I transferred because of the tension.”

He said he was horrified to learn of the attack Thursday morning. “I was so frightened. People see normality and they think maybe al-Shabab will take two years [to strike]. I never ignored the threat.”

Paramedics help a student injured during the attack by Al-Shabaab extremists.

Paramedics help a student injured during the attack by Al-Shabaab extremists.

The massacre is the worst terror attack in Kenya since the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998, which killed 224. An attack on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013 left 67 dead and renewed fears that al-Shabab could wage significant operations from its strongholds in neighboring Somalia.

Since the 2013 attack, the U.S. military has maintained a campaign of targeted drone strikes against the leaders of the al-Qaeda-affiliated group. Last month, one such strike killed Adnan Garaar, thought to be behind the mall attack and several others in the region.

An al-Shabab spokesman told Agence France-Presse that the gunmen had been holding Christian hostages. “When our men arrived, they released some of the people, the Muslims, and it is they that alerted the government. We are holding the others hostage,” Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage told AFP by telephone.

Al-Shabab considers Kenya an enemy in part because the country sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the group. Kenyan troops remain stationed there as part of an African Union mission.

The recent attack comes 18 months after four al-Shabab gunmen killed shoppers at the Westgate mall.

U.S. drone strikes had recently appeared to be weakening the group, which has also lost territory within Somalia. American troops have been training African Union soldiers to defeat al-Shabab terrorists. Western sanctions are also thought to have struck a blow to its finances.

Last year, President Barack Obama pointed to the U.S. strategy in Somalia as an example of a successful counterterrorism campaign.

He called it a “strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the frontlines.”

But Thursday’s attack proved that al-Shabab still has the capacity to strike soft targets in the region, and with deadly effect.

The country’s border with Somalia is vast and largely unguarded. Attacks on many targets, particularly in rural Kenya, are incredibly difficult to prevent. The Garissa campus had little protection, despite recent security alerts at Kenyan universities.

Kenya is a key U.S. ally in the region, a product of its role in combating terrorism as well as its growing economy and prominence in East African geopolitics.

“The United States stands with the people of Kenya, who will not be intimidated by such cowardly attacks,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

Last week, al-Shabab militants seized control of a Mogadishu hotel, killing at least 20 people, including Somalia’s ambassador to Switzerland.

Students at Garissa reported seeing notices warning of a possible attack on the campus. “As it was April 1, we just thought that it was fooling,” one student said. Several universities in Kenya reportedly had made students aware of a potential security threat by distributing posters around campuses.

Garissa University College, which opened in 2011, according to its Web site, is the first and only public university in Kenya’s arid and marginalized north.

“This is a moment for everyone throughout the country to be vigilant as we continue to confront and defeat our enemies,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

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Hong Kong protests: What are they about, who’s behind them, what do they want and what is the response?

Pro-democracy protesters are continuing demonstrations in Hong Kong, with riot police responding with tear gas.

What had Beijing decreed that protesters are not happy about?

Elections for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive – its leader – are due to take place in 2017 and for the first time will use votes from the general public.

However last month, China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) ruled out further voting reforms, meaning that only the candidates that Beijing approves of can run.

The four previous Chief Executives – following the end of British rule in 1997 – were elected by a committee of 1,200 people, many of whom had strong ties to China. This committee size has grown from 400 in 1996.

Though China declared that its bold move to allow the vote for the 2017 elections is something “we should all feel proud of”, it didn’t go far enough for the protesters, who criticised it as still muzzling those with differing political views.

Occupy Central said in a statement at the time: “Genuine universal suffrage includes both the rights to elect and to be elected.

“The decision of the NPC Standing Committee has deprived people with different political views of the right to run for election and be elected by imposing unreasonable restrictions, thereby perpetuating ‘handpicked politics’.”

The "Umbrella Revolution": Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters in Hong Kong

The “Umbrella Revolution”: Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters in Hong Kong

What is Occupy Central’s demands?

In an English-language statement on its website today the movement said it has two distinct demands:

The immediate withdrawal of the NPCSC’s decision on the framework for Hong Kong’s political reform

The swift resumption of the political reform consultation. The Leung Chun-ying administration has failed in the political reform process. We demand Leung re-submits a new political reform report to the central government which fully reflects the Hong Kong people’s aspirations for democracy. If Leung refuses to respond, the action will escalate.

Today’s statement added: “The two nights of occupation of Civic Square in Admiralty have completely embodied the awakening of Hong Kong people’s desire to decide their own lives.

“The courage of the students and members of the public in their spontaneous decision stay has touched many Hong Kong people. Yet, the government has remained unmoved. As the wheel of time has reached this point, we have decided to arise and act.”

Who initiated Occupy Central?

A law professor called Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who started the campaign in January 2013.

What is the police and governmental response to today’s formal sit-in?

Police have sealed off the site at Tamar, leaving hundreds of other people not able to reach that protest blocking other thoroughfares instead, the South China Morning Post says. It is thought that are tens of thousands of people in and around the protest zone.

Political protests are prohibited by Beijing and this trickles down to Hong Kong, which after British rule came back under Chinese power in a “one country, two systems” set-up.

Leaders of China’s ruling Communist Party are worried that the dissent could spread to the mainland.

The current Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, has implored people not to participate in “illegal” protests.

He also said today that the government will start a new round of consultations on electoral reform shortly, according to Reuters, though there was no mention of when this would be.

Some violent clashes happened in the two days until Sunday, with riot police targeting students with pepper spray and arresting at least 78.

Protesters are today equipped with umbrellas, goggles and masks ready for further confrontations with police after officers warned them to “leave now, for the sake of their personal safety”.

China summons US envoy over cyber-spying charges, vows retaliation

China has dismissed all US accusations of industrial cyber-espionage against five of its military officials and published proof that Washington is actually stealing data from China. Beijing also summoned the US ambassador for an explanation.

Beijing reacted to Washington’s recent round of industrial espionage accusations by publishing its latest data on US cyber-attacks against China.

China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China (NCNERTTCC) reported that during just two months, from March 19 to May 18, the US directly controlled 1.18 million host computers in China using 2,077 Trojan horse networks or botnet servers.

According to the NCNERTTCC, over the last two months 135 host computers stationed in the US conducted 14,000 phishing operations against Chinese websites using for the attacks 563 phishing pages. The other hacking activities through the same period of time included 57,000 backdoor attacks, performed from 2,016 IP addresses in the US through backdoors implanted on 1,754 Chinese websites.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned the American ambassador to China for an explanation, urging him to drop all charges against China’s military officers. The meeting between Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang and US Ambassador Max Baucus took place on Monday night, reported Xinhua.

Depending on further developments, China “will take further action on the so-called charges by the United States,” Zheng told Baucus.

“The Chinese government and military and its associated personnel have never conducted or participated in the theft of trade secrets over the internet,” Zheng reportedly told Baucus as quoted by Xinhua.

America’s attitude to internet security is “overbearing and hypocritical,” Zheng told Baucus, urging the US to finally give a clear explanation on multiple reports that America’s National Security Agency is spying after Chinese government, businesses, universities and individuals.

On the other side of the Pacific, China’s Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai “made solemn representations” to the US State Department, China News Service reported on Tuesday.

Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan (R) shakes hands with US Ambassador to China Max Baucus (L)

“The accusations that the United States have made against these Chinese officials are purely fictitious and extremely absurd,” Chinese ambassador to the US is quoted as saying.

Geng Yansheng, spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, accused Washington of hypocrisy and damaging bilateral military ties.

“From ‘WikiLeaks’ to the ‘Snowden’ affairs, the hypocrisy and double standards of the US side on the issue of internet security has been clear for a long time,” said the spokesman as cited by the Wall Street Journal.

Beijing insists that while the US accused China of industrial cyber-spying on multiple occasions, America itself is waging unprecedented cyber warfare against China, infiltrating all kinds of the country’s networks – government and business alike – also targeting both civilians and officials through mobile phones.

After the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden the US has been criticized by most of the world powers, as it turned out that America is spying after literally every state and every person found necessary.

For example back in 2012 Washington accused Chinese telecom giants, including the world’s second-largest global supplier of telecommunications equipment, Huawei, of posing a threat to America’s national security through ‘tapping’ their routers, switches and other telecoms equipment.

Two years later it turned out that the US was not only spying on Huawei, but America’s NSA has been actually embedding surveillance tools within computer hardware exported from the US.

On Monday, the US personalized accusations of industrial cyber-espionage against China, charging five military officials with hacking attacks against American companies.

Beijing dismissed all the accusations as groundless and based on fabricated facts, blaming Washington of imperiling China-US “cooperation and mutual trust” in a released statement.

“China is steadfast in upholding cyber-security,” the statement maintains. “The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber-theft of trade secrets. The US accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd,” the document said.

US attorney General Eric Holder leveled charges against China of stealing confidential data and business secrets in order to give Chinese companies competitive advantage over American corporations in the nuclear and solar technology sectors.

According to the Justice Department, the grand jury’s indictment must become a “wake-up call” for the American nation to realize the scale of cyber intrusions.

The companies that allegedly suffered from espionage are such industrial giants as Alcoa World Alumina, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld, US Steel Corporation, the United Steelworkers Union and Westinghouse Electric.

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Malaysia Flight MH370 : 11 Terrorists Arrested on Suspicion of Involvement in Disappearance of Flight

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  • Suspects were arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and the state of Kedah
  • Said to members of violent new terror group said to be planning attacks
  • Interrogations came after demands from agencies including FBI and MI6
  • Manifest revealed presence of consignment but did not reveal its contents
  • Airline has admitted 200kg of lithium batteries was among the items
  • It refused to say what else, citing ‘legal reason’ related to ‘ongoing’ probe

Terrorists with links to Al Qaeda may have been behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

11 terrorists, who were reportedly arrested in the capital Kuala Lumpur and in the state of Kedah last week, have been interrogated on suspicion of being involved in the disappearance of the missing aircraft.

The suspects are said to be members of a violent new terror group who have been planning bomb attacks in Muslim countries.

Aged from 22 to 55, the militants are said to comprise students, odd-job workers, a young widow and business professionals.

An officer with the Counter Terrorism Division of Malaysian Special Branch said the arrests had heightened suspicion that the flight’s disappearance may have been an act of terrorism.

“The possibility that the plane was diverted by militants is still high on the list and international investigators have asked for a comprehensive report on this new terror group,” the officer said.

News of the interrogations comes two months after the Beijing-bound plane with 239 passengers on board disappeared from trace on March 8.

An international search operation was implemented with ships and planes deployed to scour the seas to find the wreckage of the aircraft, which was believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean.

However, the rescue effort, costing hundreds of millions of pounds, has failed to recover any debris or signs that the aircraft had indeed crashed.

Explanations for its possible disappearance have been focused on a range of theories, from equipment failure, damage to the fuselage, a suicide mission and a terror attack implicating the pilots.

The mystery of the vanished Malaysia Airlines flight took a new twist with the international team probing the incident, considering the possibility that the plane may have landed rather than ended up in the Indian Ocean.

A Russian newspaper had earlier claimed that flight MH370 was hijacked and landed in Afghanistan where passengers were being held hostage.

The theory has been attributed to an alleged source within the country’s FSB secret service, according to newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

In interviews conducted so far, suspects have admitted to planning “sustained terror campaigns” in Malaysia, but denied being involved in the disappearance of the airliner.

It was reported that during the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama Bin Laden‘s son-in-law, Saajid Badat, a British-born Muslim from Gloucester, trained at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, said he had been instructed to give a shoe bomb to the Malaysians.

“I gave one of my shoes to the Malaysians. I think it was to access the cockpit,” he said.

Badat, who spoke via video link and is in hiding in the UK, told the New York court the Malaysian plot was being masterminded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of 9/11.

Investigators were earlier exploring the possibility that pilot Zaharie Ahmed Shah had ‘deliberately’ redirected the plane off course.

Shah was also known to be a ‘fanatical supporter’ of Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party, the opposition party which has been the principal thorn in the side of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has ruled Malaysia for 56 years.

Relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were recently issued with death certificates.

The latest reports of possible terrorist involvement in the flight’s disappearance will further fuel the speculation that the passengers may have been held captive by a terrorist organisation.

The news comes as Malaysia Airlines said it will close assistance centres in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur for the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER jet.

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Bluefin submersible fails to find Boeing 777 on designated search area

Bluefin-21 submersible

SYDNEY, April 28

Bluefin-21 submersible has finished the exploration of the area, which was initially designated for it to search for missing Malaysian Boeing 777 and failed to find any objects of interest, according to representatives of the search coordination center that continues operating in Australia’s Perth.

Despite lack of results, the rescuers decided to continue using the submersible: at present, Bluefin-21 is making its 16th immersion and explores the bottom of neighboring sections.

On Sunday, there were no search operations involving planes and ships due to a strong storm in the ocean. On Monday, weather conditions improved, and it made possible to go on with the search operation. In the course of the day, nine planes and 12 ships will be monitoring a 54,920 square km area in some 1,670 km from Perth.

Vanished airliner

Boeing 777-200 of Malaysian Airlines was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 7. It carried 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers onboard. Communication with the jet was interrupted nearly two hours after its departure from the Malaysian capital. Since then, there was no information about the missing airliner.

March 24, the air carrier issued a statement informing about the death of all people who were onboard of the missing plane.

According to experts, the search operation involving 26 countries may become the most expensive in aviation’s history. $44 million are already spent on the search, and the overall expenditures may reach several hundreds of millions of dollars.

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MH370 : Drone finds nothing after scouring two thirds of search area

(CNN) — The underwater drone scanning the ocean for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended its eighth mission Monday, having covered about two thirds of its intended territory without finding any sign of the missing plane.

This has been the case for 45 days now, which seems like an eternity for the relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board, still hoping for a miracle or, at least, closure.

“Emotionally, it’s up and down. You know? Sometimes, I’m OK. Sometimes, so-so. Sometimes — always — very sad,” said Nur Laila Ngah, whose husband worked on the flight’s cabin crew.

The couple had been planning to celebrate their 13th anniversary this year. They have three children, ages 12, 10 and 8.

Recalling a conversation she had with her husband before he left, Laila said: “I was asking him, ‘are we going to have the next 13 years together?’ Of course.”

About their children, she said: “They have faith that their father will be coming back.”

The Bluefin-21 is expected to began its ninth mission sometime Monday, surveying the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean for traces of the Boeing 777.

These efforts may be a main focus of the search, but they aren’t the only part.

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre announced Monday morning that up to 10 military aircraft and 11 ships would participate in the day’s search.

Previously, acting Malaysian Transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that “experts have narrowed down the search area.”

But are they actually closer to finding anything? “It’s difficult to say,” Hishammuddin conceded, adding the search “is at a critical juncture.”

“I appeal to everybody around the world,” he said, “to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on over the next couple of days.”

The failure to find clues to the plane’s disappearance does not mean that the operation will stop, only that other approaches — such as a wider scope or the use of other assets — may be considered, Hishammuddin told reporters. “The search will always continue.”

Still, he said, “With every passing day, the search has become more and more difficult.”

Mother Nature isn’t making this task much easier.

Tropical Cyclone Jack is circulating northwest of the search area. And while it won’t hit directly, this system should increase winds and rains.

Malaysian authorities briefed families of people aboard Flight 370 behind closed doors Sunday afternoon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Selamat Bin Omar, whose 29-year-old son was a passenger, told CNN that officials dealt with practical matters, such as how the families could make bank transactions.

Hamid Ramlan, whose daughter and son-in-law were on the plane, said he learned nothing new at the briefing.

“I believe that the government didn’t try to hide something, or hide any information from us. They are telling the truth. But then, mostly the members of victims, the families, they do not want to believe,” he said.

His wife falls into that category.

“My wife cannot accept that. She still believes that the airplane was hijacked. She believes that my daughter is still alive.”

Passengers’ relatives list questions

It was early on March 8 when Flight 370 set off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, destined for Beijing.

The plane never made it.

What happened has been a confounding mystery, with the frustration of passengers’ family members compounded by a scarcity of details from authorities.

New bits of information that have come out six weeks later may help round out the picture but don’t answer the main question: Why did the plane go off course, and where is it now?

These recent developments include a senior Malaysian aviation source’s assertion that the jetliner deviated from its flight path while inside Vietnamese airspace.

It turned left, then climbed to 39,000 feet — below its maximum safe limit of 43,100 feet — and maintained that altitude for about 20 minutes over the Malay Peninsula before beginning to descend, the source said.

Malaysia Airlines has declined to answer CNN’s questions on various matters — including the fact that, according to the source, the missing jet was equipped with four emergency locator transmitters. When triggered by a crash, ELTs are designed to transmit their location to a satellite.

Relatives of people aboard the jetliner have drawn up 26 questions that they want addressed by Malaysian officials, who are to meet with them next week in Beijing. Most of the Flight 370 passengers were Chinese.

Among them: What’s in the flight’s log book? Can they review the jet’s maintenance records? Can they listen to recordings of the Boeing 777 pilot’s conversations with air traffic controllers just before contact was lost?

Hishammuddin has defended his government’s handling of the operation and accused members of the media of focusing on the Chinese families. He said relatives of passengers and crew from other nations represented have not had problems.

“The most difficult part of any investigation of this nature is having to deal with the families,” he said.

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Missing Malaysian jet’s black box batteries may have died

The Associated Press

A U.S. Navy P8 Poseidon takes off from Perth Airport en route to rejoin the ongoing search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, Australia, Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Following four strong underwater signals in the past week, all has gone quiet in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, meaning the batteries in the plane’s all-important black boxes may finally have died.

Despite having no new transmissions from the black boxes’ locator beacons to go on, air and sea crews were continuing their search in the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday for debris and any sounds that may still be emanating. They are desperately trying to pinpoint where the Boeing 777 could be amid an enormous patch of deep ocean.

No new electronic pings have been detected since Tuesday by an Australian ship dragging a U.S. Navy device that listens for flight recorder signals. Once officials are confident that no more sounds will be heard, a robotic submersible will be sent down to slowly scour for wreckage.

“We’re now into Day 37 of this tragedy,” said aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas. “The battery life on the beacons is supposed to last 30 days. We’re hoping it might last 40 days. However, it’s been four or five days since the last strong pings. What they’re hoping for is to get one more, maybe two more pings so they can do a triangulation of the sounds and try and narrow the (search) area.”

Recovering the plane’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders is essential for investigators to try to figure out what happened to Flight 370, which vanished March 8. It was carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

After analyzing satellite data, officials believe the plane flew off course for an unknown reason and went down in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast. Investigators trying to determine what happened to the plane are focusing on four areas – hijacking, sabotage and personal or psychological problems of those on board.

Two sounds heard a week ago by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which was towing the ping locator, were determined to be consistent with the signals emitted from the black boxes. Two more pings were detected in the same general area Tuesday, but no new ones have been picked up since then.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has expressed confidence that the pings picked up by the Ocean Shield were coming from the plane’s two black boxes, but he cautioned that finding the actual aircraft could take a long time.

“There’s still a lot more work to be done and I don’t want anyone to think that we are certain of success, or that success, should it come, is going to happen in the next week or even month. There’s a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty left in this,” Abbott said Saturday in Beijing, where he was wrapping up a visit to China.

Searchers want to pinpoint the exact location of the source of the sounds – or as close as they can get – before sending the Bluefin 21 submersible down. It will not be deployed until officials are confident that no other electronic signals will come, and that they have narrowed the search area as much as possible.

The underwater search zone is currently a 1,300-square-kilometre patch of the seabed, about the size of Los Angeles.

The sub takes six times longer to cover the same area as the ping locator, and will need about six weeks to two months to canvass the current underwater zone. The signals are also coming from 4,500 metres below the surface, which is the deepest the sub can dive.

The surface area being searched on Sunday for floating debris was 57,506 square kilometres) of ocean extending about 2,200 kilometres northwest of Perth. Up to 12 planes and 14 ships were participating in the hunt.

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Australian PM says MH370 black box within scope of one kilometer

SHANGHAI, April 11 (Xinhua) — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said here on Friday that the missing Malaysian flight MH370’s black box is within the scope of one kilometer.

According to earlier media reports, Abbott, who is on an official visit to China, said he was “very confident” that the signals detected are from the missing flight.

In a luncheon in Shanghai, he said the information does not mean that the debris of the plane can be found.

Australia, along with China and other countries involved, will try every effort to continue the search, according to sources who quoted Abbott at the luncheon site.

The plane disappeared on March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, including 154 Chinese passengers.

The plane’s black box, or flight recorder, could be used to solve the mystery of why the plane veered so far off course.

 Xinhua 

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Two more “pings” detected in search for MH370

An Australian ship detected two new “ping signals” Tuesday, while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

An Australian ship detected two new “ping signals” Tuesday, while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Two new “ping” signals have been detected in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, reviving confidence in the month-old hunt, Australian officials said on Wednesday.

Australian ship Ocean Shield detected one ping that lasted for over five minutes on Tuesday afternoon, while a second one was detected on Tuesday night and lasted for about seven minutes, Angus Houston, head of the Australian agency coordinating the search, said.

“Ocean Shield has been able to reacquire the signals on two more occasions, late yesterday afternoon and later last night,” Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Center said.

“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify aircraft wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” Houston added.

The U.S. Navy “ping locater” detected two signals that were consistent with black box beacons. The first lasted for more than two hours while the second was only for about 13 minutes.

Flights’ black boxes record cockpit data, and could provide information on the fate of the plane, but the batteries in the beacons have already exceeded their 30-day life expectancy.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Its signal disappeared after it flew thousands of kilometers into the Indian Ocean towards Beijing, its destination.

Satellite data analysts and investigators centered the search to an approximate area of 2,261 kilometers northwest Australia’s Perth, in a remote area where they concluded the Boeing 777 could be.

The new signals may allow searchers to narrow the area even more.

“Now hopefully with lots of transmissions we’ll have a tight, small area and hopefully in a matter of days we will be able to find something on the bottom,” Houston said.

While authorities did not rule out the possibility of mechanical problems leading to the disappearance of the plane, they said evidence suggests the plane was deliberately diverted by someone familiar with the aircraft.

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