Missing plane MH370: Australia downplays wreckage claim

A banner is displayed during a candlelight vigil for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 7 April 2014 No trace of MH370 has been found, despite a massive international search operation

Australian officials co-ordinating the search for the missing Malaysian plane have played down a company's claim it has identified possible debris.

Australia-based marine survey company GeoResonance said on Tuesday it might have located the wreckage of a plane.

But the agency leading the search said the area was not consistent with satellite data showing MH370's likely flight path.

MH370 went missing on 8 March as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Carrying 239 people, it disappeared off radar over the South China Sea. Based on satellite data, investigators believe it ended its journey in the sea far off the Australian city of Perth.

It is still not known why the plane went so far off course. Finding the "black box" flight recorders is seen as key to explaining what happened.

The Phoenix International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Artemis, also known as the Bluefin-21, is prepared for deployment from the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean in this undated picture released on 21 April  2014 by the Australian Defence Force The robotic submarine Bluefin-21 has searched the sea floor but has so far found nothing
'Should be investigated'

Search efforts so far have focussed on a "southern corridor" that the plane could have flown, based on calculations derived from "pings" the aircraft emitted after it disappeared off radar.

A robotic submersible has been scouring the sea floor in an area north-west of Perth after acoustic signals consistent with flight recorders were heard.

The possible wreckage identified by the private company, however, was in the Bay of Bengal to the south of Bangladesh.

The company said it had used proven technology to search for a seafloor location where all the elements that comprise a Boeing 777 - such as titanium, copper, jet fuel residue - were present.

"The company is not declaring this is MH370, however it should be investigated," it said.

It said it had passed the information on to relevant authorities in late March and early April.

In a statement, Australia's Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said the Bay of Bengal location was not within the data-indicated search area.

"The joint international team is satisfied that the final resting place of the missing aircraft is in the southerly portion of the search arc," it said.

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said his country was "working with its international partners to assess the credibility of this information''.

Meanwhile, the search for the plane off Perth is continuing. The Bluefin-21, the robotic submersible, was due to embark on another underwater search mission when weather conditions eased, JACC said.

The air search for surface debris has ended, however. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday that wreckage would most likely have sunk by now.

A "new phase" of the operation involving a more intensive underwater search was the planned strategy for the weeks ahead, Mr Abbott said.

Ocean off the coast of Australia

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