24 April 2014
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau does not believe material found on a beach in WA’s South West region is connected to the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
The material was found on a beach 10 kilometres east of Augusta yesterday by a member of the public and handed to police.
Photos of the items were sent to the ATSB for examination.
ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan has ruled out any link with MH370.
“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,” he said.
“We want to pursue every possible lead that will help us find MH370 but sadly this is one that is not going to help in that search.”
However, Mr Dolan is encouraging people to continue coming forward with any other discoveries.
“We do encourage everyone who thinks they have viable leads in relation to the aircraft to contact the ATSB,” he said.
“We want to pursue everything. There are going to be a range of cases where something that looks positive turns out not to be on closer examination.”
The ATSB had given the photographs to the Malaysian investigation team.
The search continues for wreckage from the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 carrying 239 people, including six Australians.
Up to 11 military aircraft and 11 ships are likely to take part in today’s operations. The search area is about 50,000 square kilometres and situated about 1,500 kilometres north-west of Perth.
Acoustic detections remain most promising lead: ATSB
Mr Dolan says the most positive lead continues to be the four detections of acoustic signals consistent with a black box pinger.
However, the pinger has stopped emitting signals.
“We are continuing our underwater search of the area; at this stage it remains our most possible lead,” he said, referring to the use of the autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21.
“So we are doing a sonar search of the area to see if there is any wreckage on the sea floor.
“We haven’t been successful in detecting anything to this point but there is some time to go there.
“If the current phase is not successful … then the next phase will be a much more lengthy one.”
Australia has vowed to keep searching for the missing plane as the Bluefin-21 completes its 12th underwater mission.
The underwater vehicle has now searched more than 90 per cent of the identified area. It has been looking within a 10-kilometre radius of the second acoustic signal detected on April 8.
Search officials say it may soon be redeployed to other areas yet to be determined.
Mr Dolan says authorities remain confident they are searching in the right area.
“All the analysis available to us… is that somewhere in the Indian Ocean, on that arc that was calculated from satellite connections, is the most likely place to find the aircraft,” he said.
“We are satisfied it went south in the Indian Ocean.”