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Did researchers spot Amelia Earhart's plane? (+video)

Researchers on an expedition to the South Pacific to discover the fate of Amelia Earhart and her navigator say they have spotted a field of manmade debris in an underwater video taken in waters off the Republic of Kiribati.

Seeking to chronicle Amelia Earhart's fate 75 years after she disappeared over the Pacific, the hunt is on to find the wreckage of her plane. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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A team of researchers trying to solve the mystery of aviator Amelia Earhart's 1937 disappearance said on Friday that underwater video from a Pacific island has revealed a field of man-made debris that could be remnants of her plane.

The footage was collected in July by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) during a $2.2 million expedition to Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati.

Unsolved questions about Earhart's fate have long heightened her legendary status as a pioneering aviator, and TIGHAR's voyage to seek clues in her disappearance gained interest far beyond the shores of the remote island where the team searched.

The search was plagued by technical issues in what researchers described as challenging ocean conditions off the Nikumaroro reef, where they believe Earhart's plane landed and was then swept away into the sea.

TIGHAR Director Ric Gillespie said that once his team experienced the harsh conditions, they knew they would not find a "nice intact airplane." He added the local environment is "very severe" because the ocean "tears things up and tries to bury" them.

The TIGHAR team returned to Honolulu, which is 1,800 miles (2,900 km) northeast of Nikumaroro, with no wreckage found. But the researchers said they took hours of underwater video, which they could not view while in Nikumaroro.

TIGHAR said on Friday that one segment of the video shows a field of man-made debris that the group maintains could have come from Earhart's plane.

Gillespie could not give a size of the man-made objects shown in the video, saying there was nothing in the images with which to compare them for scale.

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