More ‘pings’ heard in Indian Ocean, MH370 search shifts further south

A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 prays in front of a message board dedicated for the passengers at the Lido Hotel in Beijing April 1, 2014. — Reuters pic
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 prays in front of a message board dedicated for the passengers at the Lido Hotel in Beijing April 1, 2014. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 ― The Australian authorities confirmed today that one of its search vessels picked up yet another “ping” from beneath the Indian Ocean floor this morning when search resumed for the missing MH370 jetliner.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston confirmed this at a press conference in Perth, according to a report on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Houston said Australia’s Ocean Shield picked up the “acoustic detection” at an area some 300 nautical miles from where a Chinese vessel heard a similar electronic pulse yesterday.

“It's something that needs to be investigated. The search is a dynamic thing,” he was quoted as saying in the daily.

Yesterday, the Chinese ship Haixun 01 reported receiving two pulse signals at a 37.5kHz frequency, which is consistent with that of an aircraft's black box pinger, first on Friday and then again yesterday.

According to reports, the signal was picked southeast of the search areas for MH370.

“The most promising lead appears to be the one associated with Haixun 01,” Houston was quoted saying.

According to a report on China-based CCTV, the signal picked up by Haixun 01 on Friday had lasted for a good 15 minutes but the presence of other ships in the vicinity may have disturbed the transmission.

The CCTV report said the signal picked up yesterday lasted for a minute and a half.

AFP reported today that the search for MH370 has now shifted southwards, based on the latest development.

“The whole of the existing search area remains the most likely area that the aircraft entered the water, but based on the new advice the southern area now has a higher priority," Houston was quoted saying.

In a statement here earlier today, Australia's Joint Agency Coordinating Centre (JACC) said the pulses picked up by the Chinese ship, still “cannot be verified at this point in time.”

A day's worth of battery life is said to be left on MH370’s black boxes, and if at all the pulses had come from the aircraft's recorders, they will likely fade by tomorrow.

Experts have weighed in with positive opinions on the likelihood that it was indeed MH370's black boxes that were calling for attention but families of those aboard have so far chosen to treat the news cautiously.

Too many false leads have turned up in the massive search for the Boeing 777 jetliner over the past four weeks.

In UK's The Independent, air safety investigator Phil Giles was quoted saying the signals were promising.

“That's not going to be a whale or a porpoise or a squid or anything like that. It's got to be a mechanical device,” the former investigator with UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was quoted saying.

“If that [report] is kosher, then it's probably coming from a pinger on a black box. I would think that it's very unlikely that somebody has dumped another black box down there less than a month ago in the Indian Ocean.

“The chances are pretty good that it's from MH370,” he added.

Today marks the 30th day since flight MH370 went missing on March 8. The Boeing 777 aircraft carrying 239 people left Malaysian shores at 12.41am that morning and disappeared under an hour later, leaving little clues in its track to help investigators track where it went and why.

Searches in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia's coast resumed this morning with 10 military planes, two civil planes and 13 ships.

According to the JACC, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) planned three separate searches for today about 2,000 kilometres northwest of Perth, which total some 216,000 square kilometres.

Weather in the search area is reportedly expected to be good, with a cloud base of 2,500 feet and visibility greater than 10 kilometres.

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