SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A U.S. Geological Survey facility in South Dakota is helping in the international search for a missing Malaysian jetliner.

The Earth Resources Observation and Science Center north of Sioux Falls collects, archives and makes available for download more than 400 data-filled images of the Earth each day. The center also partners with a network of ground stations across the globe that help download and distribute the data.

The request for help in the search for the plane came from China, EROS Disaster Response Coordinator Brenda Jones told KELO-TV The Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 last communicated with air traffic base stations east of Malaysia in the South China Sea, which for several days has the main focus of the search.

“We respond to a lot of big disasters,” Jones said. “Typhoon Haiyan (in the Philippines) we responded to, the Japanese tsunami and earthquake … Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.”

The images coming from EROS have not produced any solid leads in the case of the missing plane, but Jones said she hopes the center’s work eventually will help lead to answers.

“I can only hope and pray somebody sees something that will help all these families figure out what happened to their loved ones,” she said.

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