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Helicopters and a fighter jet circled the skies above the tense eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Wednesday, while on the streets below a column of tanks rolled through the city - one with a Russian flag affixed.
A convoy of armored personnel carriers also entered the city of Slaviansk, some carrying Russian or regional separatist flags.
Events are moving fast in Ukraine's restive Donetsk region, and confusion is rife.
According to one state-run Russian news agency, residents of Kramatorsk captured several armored vehicles from the Ukrainian army, while another said the crew of the vehicles had switched sides to join the protesters. But it's not entirely clear if that is the reason the Russian flags are on display.
In Slaviansk, north of Kramatorsk and about 100 miles from the border with Russia, pro-Russian militants now appear to be in control of the town, according to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh on the ground.
The atmosphere seemed more relaxed than it was a few days ago, with many residents apparently welcoming the presence of pro-Russian forces and their apparently seized military vehicles.
On the road toward Slaviansk, CNN's Phil Black encountered a heavily fortified and well organized police checkpoint. Attack helicopters passed overhead and a big military staging point is in operation just up the road.
Despite the military activity, there has so far been no effort to move into the town itself, he said, where the pro-Russian protesters are digging in and consolidating their power.
The unrest is a major test for the new interim government, as it seeks to hold Ukraine together ahead of elections scheduled for next month and to avoid bloodshed.
The underwater vessel searching for traces of the missing Malaysian jet resurfaced Wednesday to fix a technical issue, but then redeployed again.
While on deck, its data were downloaded, the Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre said.
"Bluefin-21 ... is currently continuing its underwater search," it said in a statement. "Initial analysis of the data downloaded this morning indicates no significant detections."
This is the second setback for the underwater vehicle deployed to scan the ocean floor for debris linked to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
In its first dive Monday, crews dipped it into the Indian Ocean on what was expected to be a 20-hour deployment. It returned less than eight hours later after it exceeded its maximum dive depth.
"What Bluefin did was it detected that it was moving was near its maximum depth, sending signals back to its operators, said Mike Dean, the U.S. Navy deputy director for salvage and diving.
" After the two signals which was deeper than what we anticipated, the operators decided to bring it back and reassess the boundaries in which they were operating it," he said.
It found no debris during its shortened scanning session.
Searchers lowered it toward the ocean floor for a second dive Tuesday, and it resurfaced short of its 24-hour mission because of technical issues. It then went down again.
Bluefin-21 takes two hours to get near the ocean floor and another two hours to return to the surface. It aims to map the ocean floor for 16 hours to retrieve data, which then take four hours to analyze.
The vessel searches maximum depths of 4,500-meter (14,764-foot), and before the technical interruption, was scheduled to complete its second dive about 10 a.m. ET, a source said. It's unclear when it will finish its current mission following the resurfacing.
"We have known a long time that especially the recent search area, the new search area they are looking at now there's a lot of debris there because it is close to what we call the garbage patch and that's where all of the garbage accumulates," said Erik Van Sebille, physical oceanographer at University of New South Wales.
Rescue boats and helicopters scrambled Wednesday to find almost 300 passengers, including scores of high school students, missing after a ferry sank off the southwest coast of South Korea.
Of the 459 people on board, 164 have been rescued, the security ministry said.
Many jumped from the listing ship to the freezing waters of the Yellow Sea.
The bodies of at least four people - a female and three males– were confirmed dead. About 292 remain unaccounted for, the ministry said.
The rescue operation was still underway Wednesday evening, hours after the ferry first sent out a distress signal.
Authorities could not immediately say what caused the ship to sink. The weather at the time of the incident was clear.