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Weather improves for jet search

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NEW: Search for missing Indonesian jet turns to ocean
• Oregon man and two daughters on board, newspaper says
• Adam Air Boeing 737 was carrying 96 passengers and six crew
• Crash follows sinking of ferry carrying hundreds of people off coast of Java
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MAKASSAR, Indonesia (AP) -- Aircraft took to the skies, ships scoured the sea and soldiers battled rugged jungle terrain Thursday in the hunt for a jetliner that disappeared over a remote corner of Indonesia with 102 people on board.

A Singapore Air Force plane joined the search for the Boeing 737, which got off to a bad start when authorities wrongly stated Tuesday that the plane's wreckage had been found and 12 people survived.

The Adam Air plane was flying from Indonesia's main island of Java to North Sulawesi's provincial capital of Manado when it disappeared Monday in severe weather after sending out distress signals -- the first over forested mountains and the second along the coast.

Rescuers spent the first day climbing steep, treacherous trials in western Sulawesi, acknowledging later that they were chasing rumors from villagers about burning wreckage and survivors.

Eddy Suyanto, the Indonesian air force's general in charge of the search, said Thursday the weather was clear but that wind, rain and cloud forecast for later in the day would likely bring a halt to the air mission.

Aviation experts said it was not unheard of for planes to go missing for days, though a lengthy search would hold up inquiries into the accident's cause.

"In an area of low population density, particularly if it is in inhospitable terrain -- such as jungle, or a deep ravine or covered by a canopy -- it could sit for a long time without being found," said Laurence Benn, head of the Center for Civil Aviation in London.

Relatives of the passengers -- some camped out at the Adam Air counter at the Manado airport -- were losing patience. More than 150 gathered at a crisis center outside the airport demanding information.

"It's been three days, we just want to know what happened," said Selvi Kawengian, 43, whose younger brother was on the plane with his wife and 18-month-old son.

Top Indonesian aviation, military and police officials -- and the airline itself -- earlier claimed the plane had been found in remote mountains. They said that 90 people on board had perished, but the remaining 12 survived.

"Indonesia is a place full of miscommunication, contradictory information and confusion during an accident like this," said Nicholas Ionides, managing editor for Flight International Magazine in Asia. "There is gossip and rumor and you never know what the facts are."

Three Americans were on board: Scott Jackson, a 54-year-old wood-products industry representative, and his daughters, 21-year-old Stephanie and 18-year-old Lindsey, the Oregonian newspaper reported.

It was unclear whether any other foreigners were on the plane.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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A relative of a passenger on the missing jetliner in Surabaya, Indonesia.

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