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Barnacles to provide clues in search for missing MH370: Australian experts

03-24-2014 16:44 BJT

MELBOURNE, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Australian aviation specialists said tests should be conducted on barnacles attached to any material recovered from debris spotted Monday by Chinese aircraft searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The tests will determine how long the debris has been in the water, and whether that fits the timeline of the plane's disappearance, they told Xinhua on Monday.

Jason Middleton, head of the School of Aviation at University of New South Wales, said any floating debris would attract barnacles, and it was easy for marine experts to determine from them how long debris had been floating.

However, he also warned the new lead could be valueless.

"Unfortunately, I think that the possibility that the debris is from the missing aeroplane is low. There is a lot of debris floating around the southern ocean, from damage done to ships in big storms," he said, just hours before the latest discovery was made by Chinese searchers.

Professor Middleton's research interests are in environmental fluid dynamics, airborne observations and aviation. He has been responsible for developing the School of Aviation over the past two decades, and has been flying since 1970.

Professor Chun H. Wang from RMIT, also the Director of the Sir Lawrence Wackett Aerospace Research Centre, echoed Middleton's judgement, saying the first priority when the debris was brought to shore was to exam what was on the surface.

"If the timeline of the barnacles falls into the time table of the missing plane, then it can be considered a valuable lead, and further examination can be made," he told Xinhua.

The crew of a Chinese IL-76 plane spotted the objects in the southern Indian Ocean on Monday while searching for the missing jetliner.

The crew has reported the coordinates -- 95.1113 degrees east longitude and 42.5453 south altitude -- to the Australian command center as well as Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, which is en route to the area.

A Xinhua correspondent aboard the IL-76 said the searchers saw two relatively big floating objects with many white smaller ones scattered within a radius of several kilometers.


Editor:Zhang |Source: Xinhua

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