Makassar, Indonesia — An Indonesian jetliner that vanished with 102 people aboard did not issue distress signals or report any mechanical problems, a top aviation official said Thursday, contradicting earlier reports.
Meanwhile, a fleet of aircraft took to the skies, ships scoured the sea and soldiers battled rugged jungle terrain for the third day, searching a 28,000-square-mile area - roughly the size of California. But by late afternoon they had seen no sign of the wreckage.
Earlier this week, officials wrongly reported finding the Boeing 737's wreckage and a dozen survivors, causing anguish among the passengers' families. Among those on board were three Americans: Scott Jackson, a 54-year-old wood-products industry representative, and his daughters, 21-year-old Stephanie and 18-year-old Lindsey.
Iksan Tatang, the director general of air transportation, said the missing plane reported high winds before losing contact with the ground Monday midway through its flight from Indonesia's main island of Java to Manado on Sulawesi Island.
"The plane did not report any complaints about the navigation, the condition of the plane or other technical problems," he said, adding that two signals from its emergency beacon - which is activated on impact - were picked up by a plane in the vicinity and a satellite.
That appeared to contradict earlier reports from officials that the pilot sent out two distress signals before the plane went down.
"I urge people not to speculate. We must wait until the National Commission for Transportation Safety has located the ill-fated plane," Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa said.