Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Flight MH370: Debris found on Australian beach investigated for link to missing Malaysia Airlines plane

Object described as looking like sheet metal with distinct rivets

Flight Engineer Chris Poole of the Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) P-3K2-Orion aircraft, helps to look for objects during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in flight over the Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth, Australia. (Photo by Greg Wood - Pool/Getty Images)
Flight Engineer Chris Poole of the Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) P-3K2-Orion aircraft, helps to look for objects during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in flight over the Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth, Australia. (Photo by Greg Wood - Pool/Getty Images)

The authorities searching for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have launched an investigation to establish whether some debris found on the west coast of Australia could be linked to the missing jet.

Pictures of the material, described as looking like sheet metal with distinct rivets, have been passed to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) for further analysis.

The debris, discovered by a member of the public walking on the beach near Augusta in Western Australia, is a rare visual lead and comes at a point when, experts said, there is a good chance material from a plane crash in the Indian Ocean would start washing up.

Officials have nonetheless advised caution, with ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan telling reporters that “the more we look at it [the debris], the less excited we get”.

He said a full analysis could take a number of days, but added: “It's sufficiently interesting for us to take a look at the photographs. We take all leads seriously.”

Even if investigators fail to link the latest piece of debris to the jet that vanished on 8 March with 239 people on board, the Western Australia emergency services minister Joe Francis said there was a decent chance material on the plane would make its way to land at some point.

“It wouldn't surprise me if sooner or later ... if there was debris floating, it would end up on the West Australian coast,” he told ABC local radio in Perth.

“Weather systems in the southern hemisphere predominantly move in a clockwise direction, and this time of the year the Leeuwin Current is pretty much at its strongest.

“Anything in that area over 50 days travelling at two knots, say four kilometres an hour, sooner or later is likely to have been caught up in it [the current].”

Meanwhile, the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said that it would not be the end of the underwater search if the submersible Bluefin 21 failed to find any clue in the area it is currently scanning.

The submarine has scanned more than 80 per cent of the 310-square kilometre (120-square mile) seabed search zone off the Australian west coast, creating a three-dimensional sonar map of the ocean floor. Nothing of interest has been found.

When that search is complete, more powerful sonar equipment is expected to be brought in to search further and deeper than the capability of Bluefin 21.

A the same time, the search coordinators said visual searches would continue in a bid to locate debris in a wider area around 1,600km (1,000 miles) northwest of Perth.

Though a tropical cyclone suspended the air search for a second day, officials said 12 ships joined Wednesday’s search covering a stretch of around 38,000 square km (14,500 square miles) of sea.

Source: The Independent

Further reading:

Plane families dismiss 'fund' talks

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage 'could be found within this week' 

Sea too deep for plane search sub 

Robotic submarine joins jet search 

Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Plane was 'thrown around like a fighter jet in attempt to dodge radar'  

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz