23 April 2014
Authorities are examining material that has washed ashore south of Perth to identify if it is related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Police from Busselton secured the material that was found 10 kilometres east of Augusta in the South West of Western Australia.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is examining photographs of the material to see if it is related to the search for the aircraft.
The ATSB has also provided the photographs to the Malaysian investigation team.
The ABC has been told the material is metallic and about 2.5 metres long.
WA Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis, a former submarine navigator, said it was possible the items found could have come from the missing flight.
“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].”
Mr Francis stressed that he did not have any information to suggest the debris was from the missing flight.
“I don’t want to pre-empt anything that it may or may not have been,” he said. “We’re just guessing at the moment but I wouldn’t be surprised, that’s all.”
Bad weather grounds search aircraft
Planes were earlier grounded for a second day as poor weather hampers search efforts for flight MH370.
The aerial search for the missing flight was suspended on Tuesday when bad weather caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Jack moved into the area.
Three aircraft which had been sent to the search area on Wednesday were recalled when heavy seas and poor visibility increased.
“Current weather conditions are resulting in heavy seas and poor visibility … making air search activities ineffective and potentially hazardous,” the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.
The 12 ships involved in today’s search will continue the hunt for wreckage from the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people, including six Australians.
Australia has vowed to keep searching for the missing plane as autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 nears the end of its first full mission.
Search officials have said that once the Bluefin-21’s current mission, 2,000 kilometres north-west of Perth, is finished, they will redeploy the submarine to other areas yet to be determined.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the search strategy may change if seabed scans from the drone fail to turn up any signs of debris.
“We may well re-think the search but we will not rest until we have done everything we can to solve this mystery,” he said.
“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.”