Debris not linked to missing plane

Wing Commander Rob Shearer looks out from the flight deck of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion during the search. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Wing Commander Rob Shearer looks out from the flight deck of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion during the search. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Two ships have retrieved a number of objects in the search for the missing Malaysian airliner but none have been confirmed as related to flight MH370.

The retrieval marks the first time searchers have handled debris first sighted by a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P3 Orion and four other search planes in a new search area off Australia's west coast.

The Orion spotted 11 objects about 1600km west of Perth on Friday and another three objects of interest yesterday.

However, a photographic analysis found none of the three new objects were related to the missing Boeing 777.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said two ships had retrieved a number of objects from the ocean yesterday, but they were also unrelated to flight MH370.

The objects were recovered by the Chinese maritime patrol ship Haixun 1 and the Australian Navy ship HMAS Success.

Two other Chinese ships arrived in the search area yesterday, and a further five ships were expected to arrive today.

Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, who heads New Zealand's Joint Forces, told Radio New Zealand this morning that the RNZAF Orion had spotted dozens of objects in its latest search.

Among them were three items of interest, but an analysis of photographs sent back to Perth found they were unrelated.

"These objects are quite varied from rectangular white objects to a green and white oval. A lot of it just seems to be ... flotsam, rubbish in the water.''

The RNZAF Orion returned to base about 3.30am today after 10 hours in the air.

It will resume searching tomorrow.

AMSA said eight aircraft searched 252,000 square kilometres yesterday, with a Chinese Ilyushin IL-76 and a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P3 Orion spotting objects in different parts of the search area.

The objects could not be verified or discounted as being from MH370 until they were relocated and recovered by ships, AMSA said.

Weather in the search area was described as reasonable for searching, but visibility was reduced to about 4km with rain showers.

The new search zone is nearly 1130km northeast of sites searchers criss-crossed over the past week.

The redeployment came after analysts determined the Boeing 777 might have been travelling faster than earlier estimates and would therefore have run out of fuel sooner.

Search planes are being sent out from Perth in stages, so at least one will be over the area for most of the daylight hours.

AMSA said 10 planes would search an area about 1850km west of Perth today, depending on the weather.

Conditions in the search area were forecast to worsen today, with light showers and low cloud, though search operations were expected to go ahead.

The search would continue to focus on an area of about 319,000 square kilometres, based on refined analysis by international air crash investigators.

The Australian Navy vessel ADV Ocean Shield was scheduled to depart from Perth later today after being fitted with a black box detector and an autonomous underwater vehicle.

The Anzac class frigate HMAS Toowoomba left Perth yesterday evening and was due to arrive in the search area in about three days.

All ships in the search area were being tasked to locate and identify the objects sighted by aircraft over the past two days

 

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