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April 24, 2014

Debris Found in Australia Not from MH370

by VOA News

Australian authorities say debris that washed ashore in the western part of the country is not related to the missing Malaysian jetliner.

The unidentified material was found near the coastal town of Augusta, southeast of where a massive multinational search for the plane is taking place.

The agency coordinating the search says a detailed examination of photos showed the material is not related to the plane.

Meanwhile, the agency said heavy rains, strong winds and large sea swells are again hampering the search Thursday.

Cyclone Jack, which is moving south through the area, has already forced a suspension of the air search twice this week.

Under the surface, a robotic submarine has nearly completed the first phase of its so far unsuccessful scan of the Indian Ocean seabed.

The coordinating agency said Thursday the Bluefin-21 has searched 90 percent of the underwater area and that nothing of interest has been found.

If the scan is unsuccessful, Australian officials say more powerful, commercial sonar equipment could soon be deployed to help explore the 4.5-kilometer deep search area.

The search effort is currently focused on a 10-kilometer radius surrounding the spot where authorities heard a signal they believe came from the locator beacon on the plane's flight data recorder. The batteries on the so-called "black box" recorder have since run out.

Malaysian authorities believe someone intentionally diverted the plane, which was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 8. But they refuse to rule out the possibility that the Malaysia Airlines jet experienced a major mechanical malfunction.