- Associated Press - Sunday, March 23, 2014

New French satellite data expand air search for possible Malaysian jet debris over large area

PERTH, Australia (AP) - Rain was expected to hamper the hunt Monday for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, as a growing number of planes focus on an expanded area of the south Indian Ocean where a French satellite detected potential debris.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue coordination center said the search area was expanded from 59,000 to 68,500 square kilometers (22,800-26,400 square miles), including a new separate area because of data provided by France on Sunday.

The U.S. Pacific command said it was sending a black box locator to the region in case a debris field is located. The Towed Pinger Locator has highly sensitive listening capability so that if the wreck site is located, it can hear the black box pinger down to a depth of about 20,000 feet (6,100 meters), Cmdr. Chris Budde, a U.S. Seventh Fleet operations officer, said in a statement.

Two Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 planes joined the search from Perth, increasing the number of aircraft to 10 from eight a day earlier, AMSA said.

It said the weather in the search area, about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, was expected to deteriorate with rain likely.

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Ukraine says air force commander held after base in Crimea stormed

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - A Ukrainian air force commander is being held after his base in Crimea was stormed by pro-Russian forces, and the acting president called for his release Sunday.

Col. Yuliy Mamchur is the commander of the Belbek Air Force base near Sevastopol, which was taken over Saturday by forces who sent armored personnel carriers smashing through the base’s walls and fired shots and stun grenades. One Ukrainian serviceman was reported wounded in the clash.

It was unclear if the forces, who didn’t bear insignia, were Russian military or local pro-Russia militia.

Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov, in a statement, said Mamchur was “abducted” by the forces. He didn’t specify where Mamchur is believed to be held.

However, prominent politician Vitali Klitschko said Sunday that Mamchur is being held by the Russian military in a jail in Sevastopol, the Crimean city that is the base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

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