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USGS In Golden Finds China’s Plane Crash Theory Is Wrong

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GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – There are numerous scenarios involving missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but scientists in Golden believe one from China is wrong.

One report has the plane deliberately flying off course, heading to hundreds of islands in the Andaman Sea. U.S. officials are examining the possibility that someone intentionally stole the plane with 239 people on board.

The act of piracy is only one theory. CNN reported lithium batteries were in the cargo. Those have sparked fires on board other planes before.

Then the Chinese say they recorded a “seafloor event” 1 ½ hours after the plane disappeared, but the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden says it took them just a few minutes to determine that the Chinese report was a small earthquake off the coast of Sumatra.

Research scientists in China claim they located the crash site of the missing Malaysian airline that’s been missing for seven days. The claims were based on looking at two seismic stations based in Malaysia. But in Golden, the USGS took a look at two more stations on the island of Sumatra and found something very different.

“The event that they were trying to model was in fact a natural occurring magnitude 2.7 earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra,” Dr. Harley Benz with USGS said.

It turned out the earthquake was in one of the most seismically active areas in the world.

“These kinds of earthquakes, particularly this size, occur every single day along the coast of Sumatra and Java,” Benz said.

Benz said there are limits to what seismic data says. If there is a seismic station close to a potential crash site, they might be able to detect it, but in vast parts of the Indian Ocean off Vietnam, it’s unlikely they would be able to see the activity, because the stations are just simply too far away.

The plane was carrying enough fuel to fly another 2,500 miles. There is now speculation that the jet changed altitude and course.

RELATED: More Flight 370 Stories From CBSNews.com

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