Perth: Australian and Chinese vessels have both picked up acoustic “pings” that could be from the black box of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, search officials have announced.
The hunt for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 continued as Australian authorities responded to reports that a Chinese patrol ship had detected ultrasonic “pings” matching the frequency put out by the beacon on a flight recorder. Angus Houston, the Australian retired air chief marshal in charge of the search, announced yesterday that underwater detection gear towed behind an Australian navy ship, the Ocean Shield, had also detected a sound.
Up to 12 aircraft and 13 ships were sent out yesterday, focused on three large stretches of ocean about 2,000km from Perth.
News that a black-box detector aboard a Chinese patrol ship, the Haixun 01, might have detected an ultrasonic pulse first emerged late on Saturday night via the Chinese state media agency, Xinhua. The ping had a frequency of 37.5kHz – the same as that emitted by flight recorders — and was detected at about 25 degrees south and 101 degrees east, within the 216,000 square kilometre search zone. A reporter for Xinhua said the signal was heard for about 90 seconds. Houston said yesterday that there had been another “fleeting” signal picked up 24 hours earlier by the Haixun 01, on Friday afternoon. The two detections took place about two kilometres apart.
“In an ocean that size two kilometres is not a large distance,” Houston said, adding that the lead was “encouraging [but] unverified until such time as we can provide unequivocal determination”.