Shipwrecks found during MH370 search identified

Two shipwrecks found during the hunt for missing flight MH370 in the remote Southern Ocean were identified Thursday as 19th century merchant vessels carrying coal, each crewed by up to 30 people.

The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people, mostly from China, on board while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No sign of the jet was found during the largest search in aviation history, which was suspended in January last year - but the Australian-led hunt did come across two wrecks, the deepest at 3,900 meters.

The MH370 search was restarted in January in an area north of the original zone, with a private research vessel scouring the seabed on a "no find, no fee" basis. So far it has found nothing.

The Western Australian Museum analyzed sonar and video data from the first search to determine what had been found.

"Both wrecks were in fact 19th century merchant sailing ships - one wooden and one iron - both carrying coal," said Ross Anderson, the museum's curator of maritime archeology.

Cargo ships of that era likely carried crews of between 15 and 30 men, although sometimes captains traveled with their wives and children. Both vessels may also have carried additional passengers.

It was difficult to determine which ships they were, but the possibilities have been narrowed based on information from British shipping sources, Anderson said.


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