ASIA:

MALAYSIA-PLANE

SYDNEY — The Australian agency heading up the search for the missing Malaysian jet dismisses a claim by a resource survey company that it found possible plane wreckage in the northern Bay of Bengal. The location cited by Australia-based GeoResonance Pty Ltd. is thousands of kilometers (miles) north of a remote area in the Indian Ocean where the search for Flight 370 has been concentrated for weeks. By Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 570 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-US-BLOSSOMING ALLIANCE

MANILA — A new defense pact that will allow thousands of U.S. troops to be temporarily based in Philippines for the first time in more than 20 years signals closer cooperation in the allies' hot-and-cold relationship that has been shaped over the decades by war, terrorism and now, jitters over China's rise. The 10-year agreement, signed Monday as President Barack Obama arrived in Manila, is considered the centerpiece of his four-nation Asian trip, which he used to reassure allies like Japan and the Philippines of American military backing as they wrangle with China in increasingly tense territorial disputes. By Jim Gomez. UPCOMING by 0900GMT, photos.

SOUTH KOREA-SHIP SINKS

MOKPO, South Korea — Two weeks after a ferry sank off South Korea's southern cost, divers have recovered 212 bodies from the wreckage, but they fought strong currents and floating debris inside the ship Wednesday as they searched for 90 passengers still missing. Meanwhile, family members of high students killed in the sinking dismissed as insincere President Park Geun-hye's apology for the government's handling of the disaster. They called for the quick retrieval of the missing. By Youkyung Lee and Hyung-Jin Kim. SENT: 300 words, photos.

CHINA-SHOE FACTORY STRIKE

BEIJING — A Chinese labor activist says police detained his assistant following a strike by 40,000 employees at a factory that makes shoes for Adidas and Nike. Zhang Zhiru said Wednesday police in the southern city of Dongguan told him his assistant, Lin Dong, was suspected of spreading rumors on social media. Zhang said no written notice was issued. SENT: 110 words.

INDIA-ELECTIONS

HYDERABAD, India —Millions of people in nine states across India, including the newest state of Telangana, were voting Wednesday in the latest phase of the country's massive general election. With 814 million eligible voters in India, the election is being held in phases over six weeks. Results are expected May 16. SENT: 450 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-ABU SAYYAF

MANILA, Philippines — A battle between Philippine marines and Muslim militants, who launched a surprise attack to regain control of a captured jungle training encampment, has left 14 Abu Sayyaf fighters and one marine dead, officials said Wednesday. The heavy exchanges of rifle grenade and mortar fire erupted late Tuesday in a mountain area off southern Sulu province's Patikul town then eased into sporadic exchanges of sniper shots past midnight, with reinforcement marines beating back about 100 Abu Sayyaf attackers, military officials said. By Teresa Cerojano. SENT: 400 words.

CAMBODIA-AUSTRALIA-BOATPEOPLE

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A senior Cambodian official says his country has tentatively agreed to accept asylum-seekers who had been seeking to settle in Australia in a potential deal criticized by refugee advocates. SENT: 380 words.

SRI LANKA-TRAIN COLLISION

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Two trains have collided head-on in northwestern Sri Lanka, injuring 68 people. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana says the crash took place Wednesday at the railroad station in Pothuhera, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) northeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital. SENT: 100 words.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO — Japan's central bank kept its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged in a policy meeting Wednesday, despite data suggesting the economic recovery is weaker than expected. The Bank of Japan is still monitoring the impact of an April 1 tax hike that is expected to sap growth as consumers adjust to higher costs. By Elaine Kurtenbach. SENT:

APPLE-SAMSUNG TRIAL

SAN JOSE, California — It was Apple versus Samsung but Google loomed large Tuesday during closing arguments at the month-long federal trial involving claims of patent infringement exchanged by the world's two largest smartphone makers. A lawyer for Apple accused Samsung of "slavishly" copying key features of its iPhone and iPad products and demanded $2.2 billion in damages.

CHINA-EARNS-AIRLINES

HONG KONG — China's major state-owned airlines have posted lower quarterly profits because recent weakness in the yuan has raised costs. Air China Ltd. and China Eastern Airlines Corp. said late Tuesday that earnings were hit by the change in China's currency, which had been gradually strengthening for years until it changed course in 2014 and started depreciating. SENT: 300 words.

WORLD MARKETS

BEIJING — Asian markets were mostly higher Wednesday as investors looked ahead to U.S. economic data and to central bank meetings in Washington and Tokyo. Oil declined but stayed above $100 as markets shrugged off new sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. By Joe Mcdonald. SENT: 400 words.

US & INTERNATIONAL

IRAQ

BAGHDAD — A key election for a new Iraqi parliament was underway Wednesday amid a massive security operation as the country continues to slide deeper into sectarian violence, more than two years after U.S. forces left Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of troops and police have fanned out to guard voting centers in what is also the first nationwide balloting since the 2011 American pullout. Polls across the Arab, energy-rich nation opened at 7 a.m. local time and will close at 6 p.m. By Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub. SENT: 840 words.

— IRAQ-GLANCE — SENT: 470 words, photos.

— IRAQ-TIMELINE — SENT.

MIDTERM ELECTIONS-WOMEN

ATLANTA — Democrats and Republicans agree that women could be the deciding factor in which party controls the Senate for the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency. In several key races, Democrats want to repeat the advantage they usually have among female voters in presidential election years. Republicans argue that it won't work in a midterm election year dominated by older, whiter voters and conservative independents. By Bill Barrow. SENT: 970 words, photos.

CIA INVESTIGATIONS

WASHINGTON — The CIA does not give up its secrets easily. Under pressure from a Senate committee to declassify parts of a congressional report on harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, the CIA is shadowed by its reluctance to open up about its operations and its past. By Stephen Braun. SENT: 1,190 words, photos.

SEVERE WEATHER

LOUISVILLE, Mississippi — Forecasts for a third day of killer tornados in the South and Midwest didn't pan out, leaving many in the South and Midwest with new concerns about flooding Wednesday. But despite the loss of at least 35 lives, there was also a sense that things could have been worse. By Adrian Sainz and Jeff Amy. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 a.m., photos, video, interactive.

CONGRESS-MINIMUM WAGE

WASHINGTON — Hemmed in by solid Republican opposition, the Senate seems ready to hand a fresh defeat to President Barack Obama by blocking an election-year bill increasing the federal minimum wage. By Alan Fram. SENT: 800 words. UPCOMING: Updates from vote expected around noon Washington time.

KERRY-SOUTH SUDAN

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry is bringing his two main tools of diplomacy — peace talks and threatened sanctions — to Africa this week to help find an end to months of killing in South Sudan that has taken an increasingly ethnic nature and threatens to rip apart the world's newest nation. By National Security Writer Lara Jakes. SENT: 640 words.

OKLAHOMA EXECUTION

McALESTER, Oklahoma — Oklahoma prison officials halted an inmate's execution after a new drug combination left the man writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney, before he later died of a heart attack. The problems with the execution are likely to fuel more debate about the ability of states to administer lethal injections that meet the U.S. Constitution's requirement they be a neither cruel nor unusual punishment. By Bailey Elise McBride and Sean Murphy. SENT: 920 words, photos.

SPORTS

CLIPPERS-STERLING

NEW YORK — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the swiftest, strongest penalty he could, then called on NBA owners to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league. Almost unanimously, owners supported the commissioner Tuesday, as he handed down one of the harshest penalties in the history of U.S. sports. SENT: 1,100 words, photos, video.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION:

— TEEN STOWAWAY-HAWAII — Hawaii official says teenage stowaway's father arrives in Honolulu from California. SENT: 520 words.

— PLANES COLLIDE OVER BAY — Divers find remains of plane's fuselage that crashed in San Francisco Bay. SENT: 600 words, photos, video.

— MICHELLE OBAMA-VETERANS — First lady to announce pledges in excess of $150 million for veterans and their families. SENT: 240 words.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.