* Beach debris not from a Boeing aircraft - ATSB chief
* Malaysia steps up assets used for deep sea search
* Air, surface and undersea search continues
(Updates details of search)
By Byron Kaye and Sonali Paul
PERTH/MELBOURNE, April 24 Authorities ruled out
any link between debris picked up on an Australian beach and a
missing Malaysian jetliner on Thursday as a tropical cyclone
again threatened to hamper a 26-nation air, surface and
underwater search of the Indian Ocean.
The debris, found on Wednesday on a beach at the southern
tip of Western Australia state, was seen as the first lead since
April 4 when authorities detected what they believed was a
signal from the black box of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370,
which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.
But it took Australian authorities less than a day to
analyse detailed photographs of the beached debris, no
description of which was given, and dismiss the possibility that
it may be linked to the plane.
"We're not seeing anything in this that would lead us to
believe that it is from a Boeing aircraft," Australian Transport
Safety Bureau commissioner Martin Dolan the Australian
That puts the focus of the search, the most expensive in
aviation history, back on U.S. Navy undersea drone Bluefin-21,
which will soon finish scouring a 10 square kms (6.2 square
mile) stretch of seabed where the acoustic pings were located.
Authorities have said if Bluefin-21 fails to find a trace of
the plane in its initial target search area, some 2,000 kms
(1,200 miles) northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth,
it will be redeployed to new areas, still to be determined.
On Wednesday, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin
Hussein told reporters that authorities would be "increasing the
assets that are available for deep-sea search" and that his
government was seeking help from state oil company Petronas
which has expertise in deep-sea exploration.
Search authorities would need to "regroup and restrategise"
if nothing was found in the current search zone, but the search
would "always continue", Hussein said.
Australian search officials said weather conditions may
impact the search effort after the air component was suspended
for the previous two days because of heavy rain, strong winds,
rough seas related to related to Tropical Cyclone Jack.
Up to 11 military aircraft and 11 ships were expected to
help with the day's search although authorities would monitor
the weather before the sorties commenced.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Sonali Paul)