Towelette found on Aussie beach tested for connection to MH370, says report

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KUALA LUMPUR (Mar 10): An unwrapped towelette that washed up on a Western Australia beach last July may provide clues to the whereabouts of flight MH370, Australia's Nine News reported two days after the first anniversary of the Boeing 777’s disappearance.

The towelette, ‎sealed in a packet bearing the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) logo, has been shipped to Canberra for further testing.

The couple who discovered the moist towelette while walking along the beach on July 2 last year said it was “unopened, which was very unusual”.‎

"We had been saying, 'let's look for stuff from MH370'," Kingsley Miller, who had found the towelette with his partner Vicki Miller, was quoted‎ as saying.

They handed the packet to the police, where it was eventually passed to the Joint Agency Coordination Centre in Canberra, which is leading the search for the plane in the Indian Ocean.

The centre has said it is unlikely the towelette would be able to be conclusively linked to MH370, according to Nine News.

But experts have reportedly said it would be possible for the small package to travel long distances without being damaged.

News of the discovery comes days after Malaysia's MH370 investigation team released its interim report on the flight's disappearance on March 8, a year after the Boeing 777 vanished with 239 people on board.

Former director-general of the Department of Civil Aviation Datuk Koo Soo Chon, who heads the team, said they ‎had gathered information from air traffic control and aircraft maintenance records, conducted simulator sessions to reconstruct the plane’s flight operator and system operation, and interviewed more than 120 people.

They also visited cargo operators, freight-forwarders and consignees of lithium batteries and mangosteens, as well as air traffic authorities in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.

The team also prepared standard operating procedure and checklists for investigation to prepare for the plane’s recovery once it is located.

On Sunday, Britain's The Guardian reported that families of passengers and crew members slammed the interim report.

The paper reported that the significance of the findings was called into question.

Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood was on board the flight, also questioned investigators for only interviewing 120 people, the paper reported.

“That’s less than our tiny underfunded private investigation has done,” she told the BBC, referring to a private inquiry launched by a group of relatives.

Another relative, who declined to be named, described the report as “useless”.

Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband, Hazrin Hasnan, was a flight attendant on the plane, said she did not intend to read the report because it was of no use in the search for truth.

The 584-page report went into minute details of the crew members’ lives, their medical and financial records and their training, before detailing the aircraft’s service record and maintenance schedule, along with weather, communications systems and other aspects.