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MH370 SEARCH: Aussie ship picks up new 'ping' signals
Publication Date : 10-04-2014
Australia has detected two new "ping" signals in the southern Indian Ocean, the first such signals found since Sunday, leading investigators to say they were close to finding the missing Malaysian jet.
The latest pings, coming two days after the aircraft's black box was due to have run out of power, revived hope that a multinational search in remote waters hours off Western Australia might finally be getting closer to its target, even as it stretches the limits of technology.
"I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify aircraft wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370," Angus Houston, who heads Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), said at a press conference in Perth yesterday.
"I'm now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not too distant future."
However, he cautioned that the task of searching in the area remained enormous.
Australia's Ocean Shield resupply vessel, towing a US Navy pinger locator, detected a signal for five minutes and 32 seconds on Tuesday afternoon, and later in the night heard a ping for about seven minutes, Houston said.
Malaysia is "cautiously more optimistic", the country's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a Twitter posting after Houston's press conference. "Pray latest leads will help us all move ahead."
China's Haixun 01 had picked up the signals on Friday and Saturday while the Ocean Shield heard a separate set of signals on Sunday 600km away.
Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that patrol aircraft spotted multiple floating objects in the area.
Chinese officials aboard Haixun 01 said they were informed of the latest sighting of floating objects by the JACC late on Tuesday night, the Chinese news agency reported.
The missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER lost radar contact less than an hour after it took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41am on March 8, headed to Beijing.
It was carrying 239 people, including 12 crew members.
Search efforts are hinging on getting to the plane before the battery of its black box, which records vital flight data and voice communications from the aircraft, runs out. This is the longest search ever to find the location of a missing commercial jet.
After Air France Flight 447 crashed in 2009, it took investigators two years to recover the wreckage but the first debris was found within the first week.
Houston said analysis of the pings heard during the weekend determined it was a "very stable" signal that was not of natural origin and likely from electronic equipment such as a flight data recorder.
The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle is being prepared on board the Ocean Shield to be sent to look for wreckage on the sea floor once the search area is narrowed down.
Air and sea patrols continued yesterday over an area 2,240km north-west of Perth in the southern Indian Ocean.
Yesterday's hunt involved 15 planes and 14 ships, the JACC said in a statement before the press conference.
Hishammuddin, who leads the search effort overall, said his government is sending more military assets to the southern Indian Ocean to boost efforts.
He had said earlier that while Malaysia is studying the question of legal jurisdiction over the investigation of the black box and wreckage, the priority was to find the aircraft first.