The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER in the Indian Ocean has hit a fresh setback, with the loss of a sonar deep tow vehicle that was being used to scan the ocean floor.

The Joint Agency Coordination Centre says in a statement that the vehicle, also known as a towfish, was being operated from the ship Fugro Discovery when it collided with a mud volcano. That caused the tow cable to break, leaving the vehicle on the ocean floor.

As a result, Fugro Discovery has started a journey back to Fremantle, and is expected to arrive on 30 January where it will be fitted with a replacement cable.

The setback comes as Thai authorities investigate a piece of curved metal debris that washed up in southern Thailand for a possible link to the disappeared MH370 flight.

Pictures carried by local media show that the large chunk of debris bears rivets and fasteners in a pattern used in aerospace materials, but has little that directly identifies it with the missing 777.

Last year a flaperon that washed up on the shores of Reunion Island was positively identified as having come from the missing aircraft.

MH370 went missing on whilst enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing during the early hours of 8 March 2014. Subsequent investigations have determined that the aircraft ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean.

Source: Cirium Dashboard