Object found on Aus coast not from jet, 90 pc area scanned

Last Updated 24 April 2014, 12:21 IST
Hitting yet another dead end, the search for the crashed Malaysian jet failed to make any headway today as an object washed ashore on Australia's coast which was not from the plane, with 90 per cent of the focused area scanned without any trace of the wreckage.

Detailed pictures of the object were enough to convince investigators that it wasn't a lead in the search for the plane, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) leading the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 said.

"We've carefully examined detailed photographs that were taken for us by the police, and we're satisfied that it's not a lead in terms of the search for MH370," Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) spokesman Martin Dolan said.

The JACC had announced yesterday that police had taken possession of an object 10km from the town of Augusta. Malaysian officials were given photographs of the object.

The find in western Australia came shortly after the suspension of the air and underwater search for the plane due to poor weather conditions.

The autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21, currently on its 12th mission and it has searched over 90 per cent of the focused area in the Indian Ocean.

"Bluefin-21 AUV is currently completing mission 12 in the underwater search area. Bluefin-21 has now completed more than 90 per cent of the focused underwater search area. No contacts of interest have been found to date," the JACC said.

The focused underwater search area to locate the black box is defined as a circle of 10 km radius where four acoustic signals were detected.

Possible promising leads have turned out to be false alarms for weeks in the lengthy search for the Boeing 777-200 which disappeared mid-flight on March 8 with 239 people, including five Indians, aboard. One major challenge that has complicated the search is that the ocean is full of garbage.

Other objects spotted in the Indian Ocean earlier turned out to be trash, jellyfish and fishing gear.

Australia has indicated that the approach to the search might be revised with more powerful underwater vehicles if Bluefin's search yields no results. It is mulling deploying a more powerful system that tracked the Titanic 29 years ago to locate the wreckage of the plane.

Yesterday, Malaysia said an international high-profile investigative team will be formed to probe the mysterious disappearance of the plane.

Members of the team, which will be formed in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, will be announced next week, said acting Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

The jetliner went missing more than a month ago, but search officials are yet to find anything that would confirm the fate of the plane.
(Published 24 April 2014, 10:31 IST)

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