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Material that washed up on Australian beach examined in MH370 hunt


CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Unidentified material that washed ashore in southwestern Australia and is being examined for any link to the lost Malaysian plane is unlikely to have come from the jet, an official said Wednesday.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau was scrutinizing photos of the object, which washed ashore 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of Augusta in Western Australia state. But Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the safety bureau, said an initial analysis of the material - which appeared to be sheet metal with rivets - suggested it was not from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

"We do not consider this likely to be of use to our search for MH370," Dolan told The Associated Press. "At this stage, we are not getting excited."

Dolan said the analysis of the material would likely be completed overnight and a formal statement issued Thursday. Augusta is near Australia's southwestern tip, about 310 kilometers (190 miles) from Perth, where the search has been headquartered.

Meanwhile, Australia's prime minister said Wednesday that failure to find any clue in the most likely crash site of the lost jet would not spell the end of the search, as officials plan soon to bring in more powerful sonar equipment that can delve deeper beneath the Indian Ocean.

The search coordination center said a robotic submarine, the U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21, had scanned more than 80 percent of the 310-square kilometer (120-square mile) seabed search zone off the Australian west coast, creating a three-dimensional sonar map of the ocean floor. Nothing of interest had been found.

The 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) deep search area is a circle 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide around an area where sonar equipment picked up a signal on April 8 consistent with a plane's black boxes. But the batteries powering those signals are now believed dead.

Defense Minister David Johnston said Australia was consulting with Malaysia, China and the United States on the next phase of the search for the plane, which disappeared March 8. Details on the next phase are likely to be announced next week.

Johnston said more powerful towed side-scan commercial sonar equipment would probably be deployed, similar to the remote-controlled subs that found RMS Titanic 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) under the Atlantic Ocean in 1985 and the Australian WWII wreck HMAS Sydney in the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast, north of the current search area, in 2008.

"The next phase, I think, is that we step up with potentially a more powerful, more capable side-scan sonar to do deeper water," Johnston told the AP.

While the Bluefin had less than one-fifth of the seabed search area to complete, Johnston estimated that task would take another two weeks.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the airliner's probable impact zone was 700 kilometers (430 miles) long and 80 kilometers (50 miles) wide. A new search strategy would be adopted if nothing is found in the current seabed search zone.

"If at the end of that period we find nothing, we are not going to abandon the search, we may well rethink the search, but we will not rest until we have done everything we can to solve this mystery," Abbott told reporters.

"We owe it to the families of the 239 people on board, we owe it to the hundreds of millions - indeed billions - of people who travel by air to try to get to the bottom of this. The only way we can get to the bottom of this is to keep searching the probable impact zone until we find something or until we have searched it as thoroughly as human ingenuity allows at this time," he said.

The focus of the next search phase will be decided by continuing analysis of information including flight data and sound detections of the suspected beacons, Johnston said.

"A lot of this seabed has not even been hydrographically surveyed before - some of it has - but we're flying blind," he said, adding that the seabed in the vicinity of the search was up to 7 kilometers (4 miles) deep.

The search center said an air search involving 10 planes was suspended for a second day because of heavy seas and poor visibility.

But 12 ships would join Wednesday's search of an expanse covering 38,000 square kilometers (14,500 square miles), centered 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) northwest of Perth.

Radar and satellite data show the jet veered far off course on March 8 for unknown reasons during its flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. An analysis indicates it would have run out of fuel in the remote section of ocean where the search has been focused. Not one piece of confirmed debris has been found since the massive multinational hunt began.


Associated Press writer Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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sant686995 April 24 2014 at 1:44 AM

Stop the BS already I know everytime the media says something of this plane crash just raises the hope of alll the family members. Just keep the media out of it already and when they do find of what everis left let the family members be the first ones.

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joycgerard April 23 2014 at 9:37 PM

Those poor family's what a roller coaster ride they are going through . After this I hope they start putting tracking devices on the outside ofplanes so this will never happen again at least.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
neutralslamm joycgerard April 23 2014 at 10:12 PM

Your ideas are like a politician's, sound great but impractical.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Joy April 23 2014 at 7:06 PM

I'd say dead end... damn, you got me to click on this never ending non news story.

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1 reply
CDR_USN_1951 Joy April 23 2014 at 8:07 PM

You go Girl

Flag Reply 0 rate up
keywest1117 April 23 2014 at 4:03 PM

Dead end #3,426

Flag Reply +1 rate up
harkone75 April 23 2014 at 8:51 PM

Somehow I get this feeling this jet is no where near what they are thinking. What is crazy is the fact that no pieces of this jet has been found anywhere...makes a person wonder if the jet landed.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
Zoom harkone75 April 23 2014 at 10:38 PM

I think it did and the plane is being hid until suspiciousness dies down... they wont make it to USA but maybe Russia or some other middle eastern country

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Cath's April 24 2014 at 5:42 AM

They're not getting excited and they don't consider what was found to be of use in their search??? But NOW they're going to 're-think' things? INCREDIBLE!!!! This 'cliff-hanger' search is nothing more than a smoke screen. I feel so bad for the families.

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jrb359 April 24 2014 at 5:57 AM

Everyday we hear this could be the wreckage! How about waiting until you have real proof instead of the same repitition of "might be it, could be it, but, no not it"!

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1 reply
Peter jrb359 April 24 2014 at 6:16 AM

BINGO!!!! Right on the head!!! We have to have something to say every day about something to satisfy the media addicts out there....It's not about truth, loss, closure or mourning...it's about the juicy news, how big the fire is, how incompitent someone was or how big a scandal we can pull out of the world's butt...We have so lost perspective....the only reason we are trying to do anything now is to satisfy eveyone's need to think we are trying to find something....not for the right reasones that should be behind it...

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wizardsking April 23 2014 at 8:41 PM

The lack of Chatter amongst terrorist leads me to believe, this plane is in a terror sponcering Govt. I think however, they know that it is greatly percieved that this plane will be used and they have halted the thought of using it.

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Jack April 24 2014 at 6:53 AM

They will never find that Jet and those poor souls that died in that metal coffin! What a waste and a shame that someone could be so mentally ill to orchestrate something like that! It just goes to show you that there can never be peace in the world because some people are animals!

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dstarieyed April 23 2014 at 8:27 PM

i am not the only one who thinks everyone is looking in the wrong place!!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
harkone75 dstarieyed April 23 2014 at 8:52 PM

ds...I agree.

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