Further suspicion mounted today (19 March) over whether the £90m official search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean was in the right place when rubbish collectors said they have found nothing resembling any debris from the airliner.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported 27 people scoured a 60-mile stretch of ocean on fishing boats from Low Rocky Point in New Zealand to the mouth of Port Davey off the coast of Tasmania over eight days as part of their annual clear-up.
Their efforts are significant as they picked 80,000 pieces of debris that had drifted 6,000 miles across the ocean – with objects like ropes and floats – coming as far away as Madagascar and South Africa.
"We found a roll of tape from Madagascar that's from a vanilla bean manufacturer," said expedition leader Matt Dell.
"We found a bit of stuff from Africa washing around. We found a drift card from Durban (South Africa) that's like a fish tag - oh, and a set of dolls' plastic shoes." He added plastic bottles were among the most commonly washed up items.
But no debris has emerged from the missing plane. The official search area for the missing Boeing 777, which mysteriously disappeared from radar on 8 March, 2014, with 239 passengers on board, had been identified in the southern Indian Ocean (according to satellite data analysis), and the search is set to continue until May when it is likely to be scaled back.
The authorities are convinced the plane is lying somewhere on the bed of the Indian Ocean. But many critics have said the search vessels are trawling in the wrong area. One oil rig worker is convinced he saw the airliner as it re-entered Malaysia airspace (after it veered off its course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing) and crashed into the South China Sea.