Searchers race against the clock to find missing Malaysian jet's black box

MALAYSIA PLANE

The crew of a New Zealand air force plane scan radar screens as they search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8, in the Indian Ocean. EFE/File
The crew of a New Zealand air force plane scan radar screens as they search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8, in the Indian Ocean. EFE/File

— Searchers continued working on Monday to find the black boxes from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared last month with 239 people aboard.

Search teams are trying to locate the source of signals of the type sent by an aircraft's black boxes that were detected over the weekend, officials said.

The Australian ship Ocean Shield detected the signals Sunday in the northern sector of the search area, located some 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) northwest of Perth, the capital of the state of Western Australia.

"The towed pinger locator deployed from the Australian defense vessel Ocean Shield has detected signals consistent with those emitted by aircraft black boxes," Angus Houston, the head of the joint agency coordinating the search, said.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 at 12:41 a.m. and was scheduled to land in Beijing roughly six hours later, but it disappeared from radar screens less than an hour after takeoff.

"Clearly, this is a most promising lead. And probably in the search so far, it's probably the best information that we have had," Houston said.

The Ocean Shield, which is equipped with a sophisticated signal detection apparatus on loan from the United States and a small robot submarine, detected the signals on two separate occasions.

The signal lasted two hours and 20 minutes the first time it was detected, while the pulse was detected for about 13 minutes the second time.

""Ocean Shield remains in the immediate area and continues to try and regain contact with the towed pinger locator. To this point, it has not been able to reacquire the signals," Houston said.

Flight MH370 carrying 227 passengers, most of them Chinese, and a crew of 12 Malaysians had enough fuel to fly for 7.5 hours.

"The area in which the signals have been received has a depth of approximately 4,500 meters (15,000 feet). This is also the limit of capability of the autonomous underwater vehicle," the search group chief said.

The signals from the plane's black boxes are expected to fade and disappear in the next few days as the batteries die.

 
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