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Search For Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight Turns Up Unexpected Discovery

Photo: Courtesy of Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
It's been nearly two years since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and so far the massive underwater search for the missing plane in the Indian Ocean has turned up no sign of the aircraft.

But officials did make one curious discovery last month: a centuries-old shipwreck.

On Wednesday, officials confirmed that the massive Australian-led underwater search effort had used sonar to pinpoint an apparently man-made object resting on the ocean floor off of Australia's west coast, Reuters reports.

An underwater drone was dispatched to further examine the find, which is believed to be made of steel or iron. Authorities confirmed it was a shipwreck, and experts at the Western Australian Museum said the wreckage most likely dates from the turn of the 19th century, according to a statement.

Interestingly, this is not the first shipwreck found during the hunt for MH370. Last May, the search effort turned up the wreckage of what was believed to be another 19th-century vessel, possibly a cargo ship, reports Reuters.

Three ships are still scouring the ocean floor, but have found no trace of the plane after 22 months of sweeping an area roughly the size of South Carolina, NBC News reports. The search — the most expensive in history — is expected to wrap by the middle of this year, according to Reuters.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 with 239 passengers and crew. In July of last year, debris from the plane — a flaperon wing part, according to NBC News — was found washed up on the French island of La Reunion. The part was the first piece of evidence showing that the plane had crashed into the sea.

Subsequent reports of other debris from the doomed aircraft washing ashore on La Reunion, including a suitcase and door, were not confirmed, reports The New York Times. Since then, no further trace of the Malaysian airliner has been found.