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Plane search spreads through Australia-sized zone

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A relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 waits for a news briefing by the Airlines’ officials at a hotel ballroom in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Families of the passengers aboard the missing plane decided to organize a hunger strike to express their anger and disappointment at the handling of the situation by authorities. They decided on the action after a daily morning meeting with two officials from Malaysia Airlines. The plane has been missing since March 8, and contradictory information plus the fact there has been no sign of the plane has left family members frustrated. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 waits for a news briefing by the Airlines’ officials at a hotel ballroom in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Families of the passengers aboard the missing plane decided to organize a hunger strike to express their anger and disappointment at the handling of the situation by authorities. They decided on the action after a daily morning meeting with two officials from Malaysia Airlines. The plane has been missing since March 8, and contradictory information plus the fact there has been no sign of the plane has left family members frustrated. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Passengers walk to check in at Malaysia Airlines counters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Checks into the background of all the Chinese nationals on board the missing Malaysian jetliner have uncovered no links to terrorism, the Chinese ambassador in Kuala Lumpur said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, second from right, speaks as Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, right, Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation director general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, second left, and Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain listen during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Checks into the background of all the Chinese nationals on board the missing Malaysian jetliner have uncovered no links to terrorism, the Chinese ambassador in Kuala Lumpur said Tuesday. T (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

A relative of a Chinese passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 holds a paper which reads “Hunger strike protest, Respect life, Return my relative, Don’t want become victim of politics, Tell the truth” as she speaks to the media outside a hotel ballroom after attending a briefing held by the airlines’ officials in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Families of the passengers aboard the missing plane decided to organize a hunger strike to express their anger and disappointment at the handling of the situation by authorities. They decided on the action after a daily morning meeting with two officials from Malaysia Airlines. The plane has been missing since March 8, and contradictory information plus the fact there has been no sign of the plane has left family members frustrated. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 rests on a chair as he waits for a news briefing by the Airlines’ officials at a hotel ballroom in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Families of the passengers aboard the missing plane decided to organize a hunger strike to express their anger and disappointment at the handling of the situation by authorities. They decided on the action after a daily morning meeting with two officials from Malaysia Airlines. The plane has been missing since March 8, and contradictory information plus the fact there has been no sign of the plane has left family members frustrated. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Investigators trying to solve the mystery of a missing Malaysian jetliner received some belated help Tuesday from Thailand, whose military said it took 10 days to report radar blips that might have been the plane “because we did not pay attention to it.”

A coalition of 26 countries, including Thailand, is looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished March 8 with 239 people aboard on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Search crews are scouring two giant arcs of territory amounting to the size of Australia — half of it in the remote seas of the southern Indian Ocean.

Cmdr. William Marks, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, said finding the plane was like trying to locate a few people somewhere between New York and California.

Malaysian officials said early in the search that they suspected the plane backtracked and flew toward the Strait of Malacca, just west of Malaysia. But it took a week for them to confirm Malaysian military radar data that suggested that route. On Tuesday, Thai military officials said their own radar showed an unidentified plane, possibly Flight 370, flying toward the strait beginning minutes after the Malaysian jet’s transponder signal was lost.

Air force spokesman Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn said the Thai military doesn’t know whether the plane it detected was Flight 370.

Thailand’s failure to quickly share possible information about the plane may not substantially change what Malaysian officials now know, but it raises questions about the degree to which some countries are sharing their defense data.

Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:40 a.m. Malaysian time March 8 and its transponder, which allows air traffic controllers to identify and track the airplane, ceased communicating at 1:20 a.m.

Montol said that at 1:28 a.m., Thai military radar “was able to detect a signal, which was not a normal signal, of a plane flying in the direction opposite from the MH370 plane,” back toward Kuala Lumpur. The plane later turned right, toward Butterworth, a Malaysian city along the Malacca strait. The radar signal was infrequent and did not include any data such as the flight number.

When asked why it took so long to release the information, Montol said, “Because we did not pay any

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