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Australia widens MH370 search area as hunt ramps up

Posted: 21 Mar 2014 04:17 PM PDT

PERTH, Australia: Australian rescue officials broadened the search area for missing Malaysian flight MH370 Saturday and boosted the number of spotter planes looking for it in the Indian Ocean, with weather conditions favourable.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is coordinating the hunt in the vast southern search corridor for the jet that vanished on March 8, focusing for a third day on an area of wild and remote sea 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth.

On Friday five planes criss-crossed 23,000-square kilometres (8,800-square miles) without any sightings of wreckage, and the search area has now been widened.

"AMSA has tasked three RAAF P3 Orion aircraft, a New Zealand P3 RAAF Orion aircraft and two ultra long range commercial jets to search a 36,000-square kilometre area about 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth today," it said.

The commercial jets and one of the Orions left Perth at 2200 GMT for the four-hour flight to the zone of interest, with the others following later.

The distance from Australia's west coast allows the planes only about two hours of actual search time before they must turn around with enough fuel to get back to Perth.

Planes from China and Japan are also expected to join the multinational air and sea hunt in coming days.

AMSA said two merchant ships were now in the area and Australian naval vessel HMAS Success, which is capable of picking up any wreckage, was due on the scene Saturday afternoon.

With 153 of 239 people on board the missing plane coming from China, Chinese authorities said at least seven Chinese ships were also steaming to the southern Indian Ocean, although it could be days before they arrive. 

There have been no sightings of interest since Australia announced on Thursday that grainy satellite photos taken on March 16 had picked up two indistinct floating objects.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss cautioned that any possible debris may have sunk.
"Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating. It may have slipped to the bottom," he said.

Poor weather initially hampered the search but forecasters said conditions appeared good for Saturday
"The area will have pretty much light surface winds, generally less than about 10 knots. We're not expecting any significant weather," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Luke Huntington said. "Visibility should be greatly improved."

On Friday, the planes flew low under cloud cover rather than rely on radar, and the same procedure is expected to be followed Saturday.

"We replanned the search to be visual, so aircraft flying relatively low, with very highly skilled observers looking out of the windows," said AMSA official John Young of Friday's search.- AFP

Indonesian marines as bombers anger S’pore

Posted: 21 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A fresh diplomatic row has erupted between Singapore and Indonesia over a 1965 bombing in the city-state, after the Indonesian navy dressed two marines as the perpetrators at a defence exhibition.

Singapore is "concerned and disappointed" after the two men appeared at the event in Jakarta this week dressed as Indonesian marines Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said, who were executed for the bombing, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Three people were killed and 33 others injured in the bombing of MacDonald House, downtown Singapore, in March 1965.

The attack was part of efforts by then Indonesian president Sukarno to stage an armed confrontation against the newly formed federation of Malaysia, which included Singapore. The two marines had been ordered to infiltrate Singapore and carry out the attack.

Navy spokesman Untung Suro­pati described the two marines as "heroes" who should serve as role models for young Indonesians.

"Usman and Harun are our heroes, and it was an international expo with a young generation of the military and students visiting," he said in Jakarta.

"We need to show them we have great heroes in the hope that they can be role models for them."

Singapore said a delegation from its armed forces had pulled out of the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue exhibition on Wednesday after learning of the stunt, while diplomats from its embassy in Jakarta have spoken with officials there "to express disappointment".

The two marines had been stationed at the navy's stall at the JIDD dressed in vintage uniforms and purple berets, with "Usman" and "Harun" on their name tags.

Indonesia had already outraged Singapore last month by naming a newly refurbished navy frigate Usman Harun in honour of the marines. — AFP

PUB’s Newater wins UN award for outreach

Posted: 21 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Singapore's reclaimed water, Newater, has won a best-practices award from the United Nations for the outreach and public education surrounding it, said national water agency PUB.

PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong received the "Water for Life" United Nations Water (UN-Water) Best Practices 2014 award in the participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices category, during a special ceremony held in commemoration of World Water Day 2014 in Tokyo, Japan yesterday.

Newater was one of nine nominations in that category.

The other category is for best water management practices, for which 25 nominations were received from around the world.

The annual UN-Water awards recognise practices that ensure the long-term sustainable management of water resources.

Newater, introduced into reservoirs here in 2003, is ultra-pure reclaimed water produced from treated used water using advanced membrane technologies.

Singapore's current Newater production capacity can meet up to 30% of its daily water needs. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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