23 April 2014
Search officials play down likelihood that material, believed to be riveted sheet metal, is from missing Malaysia Airlines plane
An object has washed ashore in Western Australia that may be linked to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Australian officials have said.
Australia’s joint co-ordination centre announced on Wednesday that police had taken possession of an object 10km from the town of Augusta. Malaysian officials have also been provided with photographs of the object.
“The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is examining the photographs of the material to determine whether further physical analysis is required and if there is any relevance to the search of missing flight MH370,” the joint coordination centre said.
An Australian search official involved with the search has stressed they were treating the discovery of the object with scepticism.
ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan said the object appeared to be sheet metal with rivets, according to CNN.
“It’s sufficiently interesting for us to take a look at the photographs,” he said, but added: “The more we look at it, the less excited we get.”
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. The plane is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, claiming the lives of all 239 passengers on board.
The find in Western Australia comes shortly after the suspension of the air and underwater search for the missing plane because of poor weather conditions.
A tropical cyclone stalled an underwater search for the plane on Tuesday. The remote submersible Bluefin-21 was searching an area where the second of four pings believed to be from a black box was detected.
Australia’s defence minister, David Johnston, indicated the approach to the search might be revised with more powerful underwater vehicles if Bluefin’s search yields no results.
The rest of the military craft involved in the aerial search on Wednesday were also forced to land because of the cyclone.