A metal object found on a beach in Western Australia does not belong to a Malaysian jet that vanished nearly seven weeks ago, authorities said on Thursday as a robotic mini-submarine scouring the Indian Ocean seabed scanned more than 90 per cent of the focused search area.
Detailed pictures of the object were enough to convince investigators that it wasn’t a lead in the search for the plane, the Australian agency leading the search for the aircraft 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.
Australia’s joint agency co-ordination centre announced on Wednesday that police had taken possession of an object 10km from the town of Augusta. Malaysian officials were provided with 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.
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 is 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.
Inclement weather and ex-tropical cyclone Jack, which is moving south across the Indian ocean, may delay the resumption of the search today.
“Today the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area totalling approximately 49,567 square kilometres. The centre of the search area lies approximately 1,584 kilometres north west of Perth,” according to Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC).
The focused underwater search area to locate the black box is defined as a circle of 10km radius where four acoustic signals were detected.
The remote submersible Bluefin-21 is conducting an underwater search mission, having scoured 90 per cent of the focused area of interest.
Australia indicated 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.
The Malaysia Airlines flight went missing more than a month ago, but search officials are yet to find anything that would confirm the fate of the plane.