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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 07:06 GMT
US ship joins Indonesia jet hunt
Indonesian Navy officer checks the area off Sulawesi - 9/1/07
The search involves thousands of soldiers, police and civilians
A US Navy survey ship has joined the search for an Indonesian plane which went missing nine days ago.

Oceanographic equipment is being used to determine whether metal objects found off the west coast of Sulawesi are from the wreckage of the airliner.

But because of the depth at which the objects were found, experts admit they face a difficult task.

The Adam Air Boeing 737-400 disappeared from radar screens last Monday, carrying 102 people.

It had been flying from Java to the northern Sulawesi town of Manado, and while the pilot had been forced to reroute several times due to bad weather, he did not report any technical difficulties.

Sonar technology

A massive air, land and sea operation has been under way ever since the plane went missing, with several other countries offering to help in the search.

Bad weather has hampered the hunt, as have false leads. Government officials had to apologise soon after the plane's disappearance for erroneously saying that the wreckage had been found.

Since Monday, the search has focused off the coast of western Sulawesi, on the advice of a local fisherman, who reported seen a low-flying, unstable plane in the area.

Map of Indonesia

An Indonesian vessel then reported detecting large pieces of metal on the seabed, and the US Navy ship Mary Sears was called in, because of its specialist sonar and satellite imagery equipment.

"The (USNS) Mary Sears has a multi-signal device. It can receive a lot of signals at one time so that it can figure out the silhouette of the objects," said First Air Marshal Eddy Suyanto, the Indonesian air base commander co-ordinating the search.

But he told Reuters news agency that the depth of the objects - about 1,000m (1,150 yards) - might present problems.

Meanwhile other air, land and sea searches are continuing around Sulawesi, but no other sightings have been recorded.




SEE ALSO
Airline hunt spots metal in sea
08 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia ferry survivors rescued
08 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Confusion over missing Java plane
02 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Indonesia search
05 Jan 07 |  In Pictures
Eyewitness: Java ferry survivor
04 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
21 Dec 05 |  Country profiles

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