Photo of the recovered wreckage

Rocket debris mistaken for MH370 wreckage

Aviation experts and Thai officials have debunked theories that a piece of suspected plane wreckage found off the east coast of southern Thailand over the weekend was a part of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and its 239 passengers and crew disappeared on 8 March 2014 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Officials believe it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, almost certainly killing everyone aboard, but the wreckage and the cause have so far remained elusive, despite a vast search led by Australia.

Tanyapat Patthikongpan, head of Pak Phanang district on Thailand’s east coast, said a large piece of curved metal washed ashore.

"Villagers found the wreckage, measuring about two metres wide and three metres long [6.6 x 9.8 feet]," Patthikongpan said.

Thai media speculated that the debris could belong to MH370, which would be the second time a piece of the plane has been found after a fragment of the aircraft’s wing appeared on the French island of Reunion in July 2015.

However, Japanese rocket maker Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has said that the metal piece is highly likely to be part of a Japanese H-IIA or H-IIB rocket that was launched from southern Japan, based on an initial examination of photos and videos of the object.

Greg Waldron, managing editor at industry publication Flightglobal also believed it was likely not from the missing plane.

"[It] would appear to be inconsistent with the drift models that appeared when MH370's flaperon was discovered in Reunion last July," Waldron said.

"The markings, engineering and tooling apparent in this debris strongly suggest that it is aerospace related. It will need to be carefully examined, however, to determine its exact origin."

Meanwhile, Australian authorities searching for the plane have announced they have lost a deep-water sonar detector being used to scour a patch of the ocean floor where the plane is believed to have gone down.

The search, using a sonar detector known as a towfish, is focused on a 120,000-sq-km (46,330-sq-mile) band of sea floor in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

"The towfish collided with a mud volcano which rises 2,200 metres from the seafloor resulting in the vehicle's tow cable breaking," said the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is coordinating the search.

"The towfish and 4,500 metres of cable became separated from the vessel and are now resting on the sea floor."

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