CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Amid rising frustrations over the expensive, so-far fruitless search for vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, experts are questioning the competence of the company in charge, including whether crews may have passed over the sunken wreckage without even noticing.
Such carping in a small, fiercely competitive and highly specialized industry isn’t unusual — and some of the strongest comments have come from a company whose bid for the lucrative job failed. But others have also criticized what they suspect is shoddy work, inappropriate equipment use and a focus on speed over thoroughness by the Dutch underwater survey company hired by Australia to find the plane that vanished in the Indian Ocean on March 8 last year with 239 people aboard.
There are also calls for the government to release the growing mountain of sonar data collected so far, which skeptics say could show whether searchers have overlooked holes in the dragnet big enough to conceal a fragmented Boeing 777.
Australian authorities say they are confident in the efforts by the company leading the search, Fugro Survey Pty. Ltd. But the second-guessing has grown as time goes by with still no physical trace of the plane.
“It strikes me as odd that you’re hiring a company that doesn’t have the assets, doesn’t have the track record,” said Steven Saint Amour, an aircraft recovery expert based in Annapolis, Maryland.
Fugro has gotten some confidence from the discovery of an uncharted wreck of a 19th century merchant ship 3,900 meters (12,800 feet) underwater. This bodes well because pieces from the plane would be roughly 10 times as big as the bits of debris searchers found from the wrecked ship, Fugro search director Paul Kennedy said.
Kennedy, who has two decades’ experience in deep-sea sonar towing, dismisses much of the criticism as commercial rivalry and frustration at missing out on a major contract. He also defends his company’s equipment and methods.
“I don’t really buy into those arguments with the other people. We just get on with our work,” he said.
Some critics argue that Fugro could have easily missed the plane because they say its search ships are misusing 75 kHz side-scan sonar devises called “towfish” that are dragged above a ragged seabed that averages a depth of 4,000 meters (13,000 feet).
The towfish were used to declare a corridor 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) wide clear of wreckage. But some argue that that distance is too far to use such an acoustic system because the sonar image gets worse the farther the signal travels.
The image is said not to degrade with more modern equipment called Synthetic Aperture Sonar, or SAS.
There have been calls to use SAS, but Kennedy calls it a developing technology with some questions about its reliability. Because the search is in such a remote region, Fugro opted for established technology with ready supplies of spare parts.
Australian safety officials say the corridor isn’t too wide, and the equipment was tested thoroughly during sea trials.
Many experts want the raw sonar data released now, or at least reviewed by an outside party to ensure nothing has been overlooked.
Officials have refused, saying that doing the huge amount of work needed to review and analyze the data so it could be understood by the public would be an unwarranted distraction from search duties.
If nothing is found, the search will end next year after a withering 120,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) of remote ocean floor up to 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) deep have been combed with sonar and video.
But finding any mistakes after the search ends could be too late, said Mike Williamson, president of Williamson & Associates, which has searched for shipwrecks, aircraft, missiles and Apollo 11 rocket engines. The U.S.-based company lost out to Fugro on the bid to find the ship.
“If they find that they haven’t gotten 100 percent coverage, that means that everything they’ve done for the last 14 months is worthless. It would have to be redone,” Williamson said.
Some experts believe that all areas should have been searched twice before being declared clear of wreckage.
Australian officials would not disclose the minimum area that Fugro had to cover each month. But they have expressed satisfaction with the progress and said Fugro was balancing the needs for speed and quality. The limited degree of overlap of the corridors being searched means only 18 percent of the targeted sea bed will be searched twice.
Critics also argue that sonar images released by Australian officials show shadows — areas where sonar has not penetrated because of a mountain or some other obstacle — large enough to conceal a debris field as big as that left by Air France 447, which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.
Until Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the Air France search was the most challenging deep sea hunt for aircraft attempted in modern times.
David Gallo, who played a leading role in finding Flight 447, recalls the mounting pressure from critics, families and officials. “It’s horribly demoralizing,” said Gallo, who works at the not-for-profit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. “Self-doubt sets in.”
Already the search has cost Australia and Malaysia $45 million. Australia expects it will cost another $80 million in the fiscal year that started Wednesday, and hopes Malaysia will again pay half.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, or ATSB, which chose Fugro for the job, concedes that the area already searched contains “data gaps due to shadows caused by geological features.” But these shadows have been catalogued and will be searched later, officials said. More difficult terrain will be searched by an autonomous underwater vehicle, rather than the less maneuverable towfish.
An international team of investigators that analyzed transmissions between the airliner and a satellite calculated that Flight 370 most likely crashed somewhere within 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) of seabed. It takes search ships a week to even reach that search area from the Australian west coast port of Fremantle.
ATSB announced in April that the search area had been doubled in size, even though the first priority area has still not been completely searched.
If Fugro ends up empty-handed, it will most likely be because the plane didn’t crash where officials thought, said Geoff Dell, a former Australian Airlines air safety investigator and current head of accident investigation at Central Queensland University.
But it’s still possible, he said, that searchers “may have driven over the top of it and didn’t see it.”
Danica Weeks, a New Zealander whose husband Paul was aboard Flight 370, has been aboard a Fugro search ship and trusts that the company knows what it is doing. But she also wants the data reviewed in case a crucial clue was missed.
She added: “I’m losing faith. I think any human being in this situation would.”
UNPHA, North Korea (AP) — North Korean farmers work to pump underground water into parched fields. Instead of rice seedlings standing in flooded paddies, the baked earth is cracked. A big lake that used to supply surrounding farmland with water is almost completely dry.
There has been almost no rain in this part of the country, an hour’s drive from the capital Pyongyang and one of the country’s main rice-growing regions, according to farmers and local officials interviewed by The Associated Press. While the situation in this area visited by the AP looks grim, it is unclear how severe the drought is in the rest of the country.
“Because of the drought continuing from last year, lots of land has been damaged,” said Sin Ung Hyon, chairman of the Unpha County Farm Management Committee.
North Korea severely limits outside access, so state media’s recent claim of the worse drought in a century has faced widespread skepticism. Pyongyang, eager for the possibility of outside assistance, has used similar phrasing to describe past droughts, and officials in rival South Korea have said there’s no way to confirm exactly what’s happening.
North Korean authorities agreed to a request by the AP to revisit this area, which the government had highlighted previously as particularly hard-hit. An AP video journalist was accompanied by local officials.
Outsiders worry that that there could be trouble ahead for the country, which has a long history of poverty and mismanagement. Critics say the authoritarian government is more willing to spend huge sums of money on its missile and nuclear programs than on infrastructure and basic welfare.
The United Nations has warned that the lack of rain this year could cause further hunger. Hong Yong-pyo, South Korea’s minister of unification, told lawmakers this week that Seoul was willing to consider providing aid to North Korea to help with the drought, although Pyongyang has yet to make any official aid request.
Farmers interviewed in this part of North Korea said they are turning away from rice farming, and are planting corn and trying to tap underground water sources to keep what rice seedlings there are wet and healthy. But no rain would mean grim prospects even for the corn.
“With the hardship this year, farmers have a lot of difficulties in trying to make the farm work, because we haven’t had this kind of experience before,” said Kim Gyong Nam, a work team leader at Unpha town farm. “This year, because of the severe drought, we could not do rice farming, so we ploughed the land again and had to plant corn.”
Jane Howard, a spokeswoman for the World Food Program in Rome, said North Korea has faced water shortages since late last year because of low rain and snowfall. This could cause serious problems later this year because so much of the country’s food production normally comes from crops planted from June to July.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea’s rice and potato production could decline by as much as 20 percent compared to average years should the rain shortage continue. While North Korea’s precipitation last year was its lowest since 2000, the country avoided a significant drop in food production because of its strong supply of irrigation water and the lack of floods in the summer, the ministry said.
North Korea’s food production is regularly affected by droughts or floods that expose the inefficiencies of its agricultural system, which is heavily reliant on foreign aid, artificial irrigation and terraced fields that are vulnerable to torrential rain.
A devastating North Korean famine during the mid-1990s is believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people, though the exact number is disputed. The famine may have also loosened the state’s strict control over the economy by damaging its public food distribution system and paving the way for private economic activity in unofficial markets.
Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report from Seoul.
LONDON (AP) — The latest from Wimbledon (all times local):
The way Dustin Brown played against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, it’s a wonder the 30-year-old German hasn’t had a big breakthrough earlier in his career.
According to Brown himself, it’s just a matter of being inconsistent.
The 102nd-ranked Brown says “it took a while for me to learn to know that I can win a match like this on a given day, but I can also play a shocking match.”
Before stunning Nadal on Centre Court on Thursday, Brown had only won consecutive tour-level matches once this year.
He said “I guess the main thing for me is to accept that my game has that span.”
Ivo Karlovic beat the fading light and Alexandr Dolgopolov to advance after a marathon five-setter at Wimbledon.
The hard-serving Karlovic hit 53 aces in beating the Ukrainian 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 13-11 Thursday to reach the third round at the Grand Slam tournament.
It was the last match to finish for the day, shortly before play would have had to be suspended because of bad light. The Croatian’s victory ensured the entire second round was completed on schedule.
Karlovic will next face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the third round Saturday.
Even after another tough loss at Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal could find a bit of humor in his situation.
In his news conference after losing to 102nd-ranked Dustin Brown in the second round Thursday, Nadal was asked if he intended to stay in Wimbledon a bit longer in the house he’s renting with his family, to enjoy the atmosphere.
“I don’t have any more work here in London,” Nadal said. “So, if you want to use the house, it’s going to be free tomorrow.”
Rafael Nadal fell to another early exit at Wimbledon on Thursday — this time to 102nd-ranked Dustin Brown.
Nadal lost 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to the qualifier from Germany, who frustrated the Spaniard throughout with his aggressive serve-and-volley style.
It’s the fourth year in a row that Nadal leaves the All England Club early. The two-time champion lost in the second round in 2012, first round in 2013 and fourth round last year — with none of his opponents ranked higher than 100th.
This, however, was the first time Nadal has lost to a qualifier in a Grand Slam tournament.
Before Wimbledon, Brown had only won back-to-back matches on the ATP tour once this year, reaching the quarterfinals in Doha.
Rafael Nadal is in trouble against 102nd-ranked Dustin Brown going down two sets to one in their second-round match on Centre Court.
Brown leads 7-5, 3-6, 6-4 and is using an aggressive serve-and-volley style to frustrate the two-time champion. Nadal was up a break in the first set but finds himself on the brink of another early exit at the All England Club. Nadal lost in the second round in 2012, first round in 2013 and fourth round last year.
Brown has only won back-to-back matches on the ATP tour once this year, reaching the quarterfinals in Doha. But the German is using an eclectic mix of shot-making that is drawing loud cheers from the Centre Court crowd — and giving Nadal all he can handle.
Andy Murray gave the Duchess of Cornwall an unexpected souvenir after his victory at Wimbledon on Thursday.
As he usually does after a match, Murray threw his wristbands into the crowd after beating Robin Haase in straight sets in the second round on Court 1 — and happened to hit Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook, who was sitting next Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla.
“I saw her briefly after the match,” Murray said. “Then the Duchess opened up her bag and my wristband was in there, so he (Brook) obviously had given it to her.”
Nick Kyrgios scaled a wall outside Court 14 to catch a glimpse of the Wimbledon doubles victory by his fellow Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Kyrgios, the 20-year-old who’ll play his third-round singles match Friday, was wearing his trademark set of pink headphones when he was spotted peeking in on his pals’ match.
Hewitt, the 2002 singles champion who is competing at the All England Club for the final time, and Kokkinakis came back to edge Marin Draganja and Henri Kontinen 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2, 8-6 in the first round of singles. Both of those Australians lost in the opening round of singles.
Go here to check out a photo of Kyrgios tweeted by Jonathan Liew of The Telegraph:
With a vintage performance punctuated by a spectacular trick shot, Roger Federer looked as good as ever on the grass-courts of Wimbledon.
Federer beat Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round on Thursday and pulled off arguably the shot of the tournament so far in the second set — a between-the-legs lob that helped him break for 5-2.
The seven-time champion struggled with Querrey’s serve in the first set before breaking for a 5-4 lead, and then dominated the last two sets.
Defending champion Petra Kvitova keeps steamrolling opponents at Wimbledon.
The Czech player joined the growing list of favorites to earn straight-forward victories in the second round by beating Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-2, 6-0 in less than an hour on Court 1 on Thursday.
Kvitova has dropped just three games in two matches so far after beating Kiki Bertens 6-1, 6-0 in the first round.
Roger Federer added another highlight-reel moment to his collection from Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
The seven-time champion hit an audacious between-the-legs forehand lob from the baseline against Sam Querrey in the second set of their second-round match on Thursday — and won the point.
With Querrey serving and Federer up 4-2 in the set, the Swiss star chased down a shot and let the ball go through his legs before hitting his lob over the tall American. Querrey chased down the shot but returned it into the net.
Federer went on to break before taking a 2-0 lead.
A video of the shot is here: http://clips.wimbledon.com/g/v/JrQlxwk6ZJ6
Former finalist Agnieszka Radwanska needed just 49 minutes to win her second-round match at Wimbledon on Thursday.
Radwanska easily dispatched Alja Tomljanovic of Australia 6-0, 6-2 on Court 2.
The 13th-seeded Pole was broken when serving for the match at 5-1, but broke right back at love to seal the win.
Radwanska lost the 2012 final to Serena Williams.
Andy Murray had a laugh at his BBC TV interviewer’s expense after Thursday’s straight-set victory at Wimbledon.
At the close of their 2 1/2-minute post-match exchange, Murray was asked, “A lot of people, when they go home from work, they say, ‘I had a really good day at work today.’ What will you say when you walk through the front door?”
That drew an incredulous look and a chuckle from the tournament’s 2013 champion.
“Is that what they do?” Murray replied. “Like, when you walk through the front door, you go, ‘Oh, I had a great day today’?”
Responded his interlocutor: “Well, it depends how the interviews go, Andy.”
Former finalist Sabine Lisicki came from a set and a break down to beat Christina McHale of the United States 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 on Centre Court on Thursday to advance to the third round of Wimbledon.
Lisicki was outplayed in the first set and was broken to start the second. But the 2013 runner-up turned things around by breaking right back and then won the last five games of the decider, closing the match out with a backhand winner.
Andy Murray had little trouble advancing to the third round of Wimbledon, dismantling Robin Haase of the Netherlands in straight sets on Court 1.
Murray won 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 as Haase failed to put up much resistance against the home favorite.
Murray broke his opponent six times to wrap up the win in 1 hour, 27 minutes.
Murray, the 2013 champion, has never failed to get past the second round at Wimbledon.
Caroline Wozniacki made things a bit difficult for herself before advancing to the third round of Wimbledon, beating Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-6 (6) on Thursday.
The fifth-seeded Wozniacki looked headed for a routine victory when leading 5-1 in the second set but was broken twice when serving for the match. She finally converted her second match point in the tiebreaker with a backhand volley winner.
The former No.1 hasn’t had much success at Wimbledon, where she has never made it past the fourth round.
In other early matches, No. 8-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia lost 6-2, 7-5 to Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, while No. 10 Angelique Kerber of Germany beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-5, 6-2.
Play has started at Wimbledon after a rain delay of about 45 minutes.
A light shower pushed back the start of matches on the outside courts, which had been set to begin at 11:30 a.m. It was the first rain delay of this year’s tournament.
Organizers said more showers could come throughout the day.
Play was due to start as scheduled on Centre Court and Court 1 at 1 p.m.
Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will be among the guests in the Royal Box at Wimbledon on Thursday.
Camilla has been a regular visitor to Wimbledon in recent years. Michael and Carole Middleton, the parents of Prince William’s wife Kate, will also be in the Royal Box.
The parents of Roger Federer, Robbie and Lynette, are also on hand to watch the seven-time Wimbledon champion play his second-round match against Sam Querrey of the U.S.
The start of play at Wimbledon has been delayed because of rain.
Play on outside courts had been scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. but was pushed back because of a light shower. Organizers said rain showers were forecast to continue into the afternoon.
Play on Centre Court, which is protected by a retractable roof, will begin at 1 p.m. with Christina McHale of the U.S. facing Sabine Lisicki of Germany.
Wimbledon is getting its first drops of rain for this year’s tournament.
After the hottest day in the Grand Slam tournament’s history on Wednesday, temperatures were cooler and a light drizzle started falling shortly before play was set to start on Thursday. Covers were pulled over the outside courts, while the roof stayed closed on Centre Court.
Play on outside courts was set to begin at 11:30 a.m., and no announcement had been made about whether matches will be delayed.
HAVANA (AP) — Cuban authorities have launched public Wi-Fi hotspots along a main avenue that is the heart of Havana’s cultural and social life, the first step in government promises to gradually roll out such connectivity options on an island that the Internet revolution has largely passed by.
Authorities have been installing the boxy white routers on buildings along 23rd Street in the Vedado theater, nightclub and business district in recent weeks, and they apparently went live Wednesday night.
Dozens of people, many of them young, sat on stairs and stoops tapping away at smartphones, tablets and laptops Thursday on the street known locally as “The Ramp” for its gentle uphill slope from the sea.
Angel Padron, a 16-year-old who lives a few steps off 23rd Street, called the signal speed “acceptable,” robust enough to load videos on YouTube.
“Before I used to have to go to the hotels,” Padron said, referring to one of the few sources of wireless in the country, and where an hour online can cost a third of what most Cubans make in a month. “It’s like they’ve put this in my living room, given me wings to fly around the Internet.”
“I got here early and spent about 40 minutes” online, he added.
State telecom monopoly Etecsa announced in mid-June that it would open 35 such hotspots around the island.
Users need to have an account registered with Etecsa, and the service costs $2 an hour — accessible for some Cubans who have relatively higher-paying private-sector jobs or relatives overseas who send remittances. But it’s still a high barrier of entry for many people who make around $20 a month from state salaries.
Wilmer Cruz, a 31-year-old beauty salon owner, called the price “a little expensive” but gave positive reviews.
“You can communicate with the whole world. You can know what’s going on around the planet,” Cruz said. “It’s magnificent, just what all of Cuba was waiting for.”
Cuba remains one of the last places in the world in Internet connectivity rates.
Home dial-up connections are tightly restricted and generally not available to the public. Home broadband is costly and limited to a minuscule percentage of people, including foreigners.
Most Cubans who are able to go online do so from their schools or workplaces, or from the hundreds of Etecsa Internet centers around the country. Often it’s just to access email and hook into the island’s intranet, and falls short of the worldwide web.
Authorities recently lowered prices in the Internet centers to $2 per hour.
Earlier this year a famous Cuban artist known as Kcho began offering free Wi-Fi at his workshop in the poor western neighborhood of Romerillo. There’s no sign that free Wi-Fi has been installed anywhere else for the public.
Outside an artisan market on 23rd Street, Jose Antonio Leyva, a 34-year-old souvenir vendor, took selfies to send to family in the United States, Spain and Italy.
“Online you see lots of interesting things if you know how to use it well, and it keeps you in touch with relatives or lets you meet new friends,” Leyva said.
Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP
KUWAIT CITY (AP) — An Islamic State sympathizer’s deadly bombing in a packed Kuwaiti mosque last week was designed to fit an all-too-familiar pattern: extremists attack Shiites to stoke sectarian hatred and then proclaim themselves the defenders of Sunnis against those they denounce as heretics.
This time the attack seems to have backfired, at least for now. Instead of fueling the kind of sectarian animosity that has devastated Iraq and Syria, the Kuwait attack has reawakened a sense of national solidarity not seen since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion.
Like its Gulf Arab neighbors, this small but oil-rich nation is ruled by a U.S.-allied Sunni monarchy. Religious conservatives within the Sunni majority are deeply suspicious of Shiites, and by extension, non-Arab Shiite powerhouse Iran.
But within 24 hours of the attack, billboards across Kuwait went up showing an image of the Kuwaiti flag wrapped around a hand, with the slogan: “We stand as one.” One of the landmark Kuwait Towers was graced with an illuminated message of condolence that referred to those killed as martyrs.
Sunni activists have taken to social media urging Sunnis to pray at Shiite mosques. Kuwaiti celebrities appear in television commercials speaking about unity, while four of the country’s best-known singers recorded and released a song within hours of the blast praising Kuwait’s history of coexistence.
The ruling emir, Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, surprised many by arriving at the scene of the blast within an hour of the explosion. A YouTube video of him touring the site soon went viral.
“They are my children,” he told officials when they warned him against visiting the site. That phrase too — highlighting the notion that this was an attack against the nation, not a particular sect — now graces billboards along major highways.
Even more remarkably, the Sunni emir lent a private jet to fly the bodies of several of those killed to the Shiite shrine city of Najaf, Iraq, for burial in line with their families’ wishes.
Kuwaiti lawyer Kawther al-Jouan says the mood is reminiscent of the days following the Iraqi invasion, when volunteers like her banded together in neighborhood civil resistance groups.
“All differences melted away and everyone was fighting against a single enemy, for a single cause. This is the same scenario, only we are fighting an ideology,” she said.
Friday’s blast in one of Kuwait City’s oldest Shiite mosques killed 27 people and wounded more than 200. An affiliate of the Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility.
Authorities identified the bomber as Fahad Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-Gabbaa, a Saudi man in his early twenties who left Riyadh the night before the attack, changed flights in Bahrain, and arrived in Kuwait just hours before detonating his explosives. Gulf Air, the airline he flew, said he traveled on a one-way ticket and had no checked baggage, and went through standard security screening before his flights.
Government officials have squarely denounced the bombing and called for unity.
Interior Minister Mohammed Al Khaled Al Sabah said this week his government is in “a state of war” with extremists and would not hesitate to target other terrorist cells. Minister of Education Bader al-Essa was quoted by Al-Jarida newspaper as saying he intends to re-examine Islamic educational materials to ensure they don’t promote sectarianism.
The response reflects the degree to which Shiites, who are believed to make up roughly 30 percent of the country’s 1.3 million citizens, are integrated into Kuwaiti society.
Bedrocks of the country’s influential merchant class, Shiites have traditionally had good relations with the ruling Al Sabah dynasty. They are active in the country’s parliament, the most free-wheeling in the Gulf, and serve in the police and military.
In nearby Sunni-ruled Bahrain, by contrast, Shiites make up the majority but have long complained of discrimination and a lack of political freedoms. Saudi Arabia’s minority Shiites voice similar concerns, with sectarian tensions exacerbated by the kingdom’s ongoing duel with regional rival Iran and its war against Iranian-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen.
The sectarian-charged conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq threaten to polarize Kuwait too. Private Sunni donors in the country have provided significant financial support to militant groups in Syria. Two Kuwaitis were sanctioned as terrorist supporters by the U.S. last year for collecting funds for the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria.
But a history of Sunni-Shiite cooperation and the shared experience of living through the Iraqi invasion help temper sectarian passions at home, said Sami al-Faraj, director of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.
“We will always identify with the victims of attacks,” he said. “We can feel for our Sunni or Shiite brothers (abroad) but we should not be torn inside Kuwait.”
Kholoud al-Feeli, who lost her uncle in Friday’s attack, is the daughter of a Shiite father and Sunni mother who were married decades ago at the home of the current emir, who was minister of foreign affairs at the time and knew the family.
She recalled being raised not to see sectarian differences, and hopes her country hangs on to the newfound spirit of unity.
“There is a realization that we are in danger. I hope this isn’t a temporary honeymoon between Shiites and Sunnis,” she said.
Schreck reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck
WASHINGTON (AP) — Investigators found no evidence of a shooting after the Washington Navy Yard went on lockdown Thursday because someone reported shots fired in the same building where a gunman killed 12 workers in a rampage two years ago.
D.C. police said a woman called from inside a Navy Yard building to report that she might have heard sounds of gunshots around 7:20 a.m. However, investigators found no sign of a shooting, a shooter or anyone injured.
No arrests were made and no weapons found, officials said.
“At this time there is no evidence of gunshots,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said. “There is no evidence of a shooter, and there is no evidence of any victims today.”
A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Navy security saw surveillance video of two people jumping the fence in the vicinity of the building a couple of minutes before the first report of gunfire. Security found no one inside the building, the official said.
Officials do not believe the report was a hoax, D.C. police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters. Investigators interviewed the woman who made the call, Lanier said, and she did exactly as authorities regularly tell people: Report anything you think may be suspicious.
Shortly after the report, a heavy police and fire department presence began blocks away from the Navy Yard, with roads blocked and a helicopter hovering overhead. The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene. At a news conference, local and Navy officials praised the work of all the responding agencies and called it well-coordinated.
Gates to the Navy Yard were closed, and all people were advised to shelter in place, said Chatney Auger, spokeswoman for Naval District Washington.
Thousands would have been at the base at the time of the reports, Navy public affairs officer Chris Johnson told reporters outside the Navy Yard, the country’s oldest naval installation.
In September 2013, military contractor Aaron Alexis killed 12 civilian workers at the Navy Yard’s Building 197 before he was fatally shot by police. The building has since been renamed the Humphreys Building. It reopened this year.
When facilities specialist Chris Robertson heard an alarm and loudspeaker instructions about 7:30 a.m., he said his first thought was: “Here we go again.”
He said his supervisor called at 7:33 a.m. and told him and his two co-workers to leave. He also said he hadn’t noticed anything unusual Thursday morning — everything was normal.
Associated Press writers Brad Foss and Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.