MH370 Search Finds New Shipwreck, But No Plane

13/01/2016 12:30 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
RICHARD BOUHET via Getty Images
French maritime gendarmes in a boat take part in the search for wreckage from the missing MH370 plane off of Saint-Marie on the French island of La Reunion on August 14, 2015. France will conduct air and sea searches off its Indian Ocean territory of Reunion until the start of next week for debris from missing flight MH370, the island's top official said on August 12. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)

SYDNEY -- The hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has uncovered a shipwreck deep underwater, officials said today, the second such discovery since the search began almost two years ago.

An Australian-led team continues to scour the southern Indian Ocean seabed in hope of finding the final resting place of MH370, which vanished on 8 March, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

In July last year, a two-metre-long (almost seven-foot) flaperon wing part washed up on a beach on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion and was confirmed to be from the ill-fated flight, marking the first concrete evidence that it met a tragic end.

Nothing has been found since despite more than 80,000 square kilometres of the seafloor being searched, based on satellite analysis of the jet's likely trajectory after it diverted from its flight path.

But another shipwreck -- an iron or steel-hulled vessel believed to have gone down at the turn of the 19th century -- has been discovered some 3,700 metres deep.

"On 19 December, 2015, an anomalous sonar contact was identified in the course of the underwater search, with analysis suggesting the object was likely to be man-made, probably a shipwreck," said the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC).

One of three ships searching for MH370, Havila Harmony, used an autonomous underwater vehicle to further examine the find and captured high-resolution sonar imagery.

"The Shipwreck Galleries of the Western Australian Museum have conducted a preliminary review of some sonar imagery and advised that the vessel is likely to be a steel/iron vessel dating from the turn of the 19th century," added JACC.

It is the second wreck found during the hunt.

In May last year, sonar imagery revealed an anchor, along with other objects searchers said were man-made as well as what are thought to be lumps of coal.

Investigators believe MH370 ran out of fuel and crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, sparking one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history.

Speculation on the cause of the plane's disappearance has focused primarily on a possible mechanical or structural failure, a hijacking or terror plot, or rogue pilot action.

Despite the satellite evidence pointing to the plane going down, many Chinese relatives of those on board remain sceptical, and are convinced their loved ones are alive, perhaps being held at an unknown location.

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