19th century shipwreck discovered during search for MH370
In this Jan. 2, 2016, sonar image released by Australian Transport Safety Bureau on Wednesday Jan. 13, 2016, a shipwreck is seen on the ocean floor off the coast of Australia.
Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, January 13, 2016 4:04AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 13, 2016 9:57AM EST
CANBERRA, Australia - The undersea search for the Malaysian airliner that vanished almost two years ago has found a second 19th century shipwreck deep in the Indian Ocean off the west Australian coast, officials said Wednesday.
A sonar search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 found what appeared to be a man-made object on Dec. 19, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a statement.
A follow-up investigation using an underwater drone captured high-resolution sonar images on Jan. 2 that confirmed that the find was a shipwreck, said the bureau, which is running the search for the Boeing 777 which vanished on March 8, 2014.
The Shipwreck Galleries of the Western Australian Museum conducted a preliminary review of the images and advised that the wreck was likely to be a steel or iron ship dating from the turn of the 19th century, the bureau said.
The sea hunt similarly found what appeared to be a man-made object in March last year. But it wasn't until May that a closer look confirmed that it was not plane wreckage but the wreck of a cargo ship built in the mid-to-late 19th century. Hundreds of such ships were lost during voyages across the Indian Ocean. Neither ship is likely to be identified because of the cost of mounting closer examinations.
Flight 370 is thought to have crashed in the Indian Ocean with 239 passengers and crew aboard more than 1,800 kilometres southwest of Australia after mysteriously flying off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing.
Searchers have been combing a 120,000-square-kilometre part of the Indian Ocean since late 2014 but have yet to turn up any trace of Flight 370, although a wing flap was found in July last year washed up on remote Reunion Island far to the west.
More than 80,000 square kilometres of the seafloor have been scoured so far, and the search is scheduled to be wound up by the middle of the year if nothing of Flight 370 is found.