A Chinese ship that is part of the international search for the missing Malaysian airliner MH370 has detected a "pulse signal." Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was hopeful but far from certain.
China’s Xinhua news agency said the signal had been discovered by the Haixun 01, a Chinese patrol ship involved in the multinational search in the vast southern Indian Ocean.
Xinhua said the signal was located at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude, and had a frequency of 37.5 kHz.
The Australian agency coordinating the search said the frequency was “consistent” with a signal from a black box flight recorder of the type in the missing Boeing 777.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Sunday said he welcomed news of the underwater signals, but stressed a need for caution.
"We are hopeful but by no means certain," Abbot told reporters in Tokyo. "This is the most difficult search in human history, we are searching for an aircraft which is at the bottom of a very deep ocean and it's a very, very wide search area."
Xinhua had also said that a Chinese air force plane had spotted a number of white floating objects in the search area.
Flight MH370 vanished four weeks ago on March 8 with 239 people aboard while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The majority of its passengers were Chinese.
Experts analyzing satellite readings believe that MH370 crashed into the Indian Ocean, far off Australia's western coast, after veering a long way from its intended Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight path.
The plane’s flight and voice recorders will soon fall silent. Their batteries last only for about a month.
Vast search area
Scouring the presumed Indian Ocean crash zone on Saturday were 13 planes and 11 ships, including a British nuclear submarine.
Two hydrographic naval vessels – Australia’s Ocean Shield and Britain’s HMS Echo – carry sophisticated sonar equipment.
To search effectively, the area first has to be narrowed down by finding floating wreckage. Ping locators can only be dragged slowly through the water.
US Navy Captain Mark Mathews said scanning required “a couple of days on each leg so it’s a slow-going search.”
The search area, so far, spans 217,000 square kilometers (84,000 square miles) and lies about 1,700 kilometers northwest of the western Australian city of Perth.
dr,ipj/ (AP, dpa, AFP)