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Australian PM confident sounds are from Flight 370

PERTH, Australia (AP) - Australia's prime minister said Friday that authorities are confident that a series of underwater signals detected in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean are coming from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Tony Abbott told reporters in Shanghai, China, that search crews had significantly narrowed down the area they were hunting for the source of the sounds, first detected on Saturday.

"We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box on MH370," Abbott said.

"Nevertheless, we're getting into the stage where the signal from what we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade," he added. "We are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires."

The plane's black boxes, or flight data and cockpit voice recorders, could help solve the mystery of why Flight 370 veered so far off course when it vanished on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. But the batteries powering their locator beacons last only about a month - and it has been more than a month since the plane disappeared.

The Australian ship Ocean Shield, which is towing a U.S. Navy device to detect signals emanating from the beacons on a plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders, first picked up two underwater sounds on Saturday that were later determined to be consistent with the pings emitted from the flight recorders, or "black boxes." The ship's equipment detected two more sounds in the same general area on Tuesday.

"We are confident that we know the position of the black box flight recorder to within some kilometers, but confidence in the approximate position of the black box is not the same as recovering wreckage from almost 4 ½ kilometers beneath the sea or finally determining all that happened on that flight," Abbott said.

An Australian air force P-3 Orion, which has been dropping sonar buoys into the water near where four sounds were heard earlier, picked up another "possible signal" on Thursday, but Angus Houston, who is coordinating the search for Flight 370 off Australia's west coast, said in a statement that an initial assessment of the signal had determined it was not related to an aircraft black box.

Houston said the Ocean Shield was continuing on Friday to use its towed pinger locator to try and locate additional signals. The underwater search zone is currently a 1,300-square-kilometer (500-square-mile) patch of the ocean floor, about the size of the city of Los Angeles.

"It is vital to glean as much information as possible while the batteries on the underwater locator beacons may still be active," Houston said in a statement. "The AP-3C Orions continue their acoustic search, working in conjunction with Ocean Shield, with three more missions planned for today."

The Bluefin 21 submersible takes six times longer to cover the same area as the ping locator being towed by the Ocean Shield and would take six weeks to two months to canvass the current underwater search zone.

"On the information I have available to me, there has been no major breakthrough in the search for MH370," he added. "I will provide a further update if, and when, further information becomes available."

The searchers are trying to pinpoint the location of the source of the signals so they can send down a robotic submersible to look for wreckage and the flight recorders from the Malaysian jet. Houston said on Friday that that decision could be "some days away."

Houston's coordination center said the area to be searched for floating debris on Friday had been narrowed to 46,713 square kilometers (18,036 square miles) of ocean extending from 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) northwest of Perth. Up to 15 planes and 13 ships would join Friday's search.

Thursday's search of a 57,900 square kilometer (22,300 square mile) area of ocean in a similar location reported no sightings of potential wreckage, the center said.

The sonar buoys are being dropped by the Australian air force to maximize the sound-detectors operating in the search zone. Royal Australian Navy Commodore Peter Leavy said each buoy is dangling a hydrophone listening device about 300 meters (1,000 feet) below the surface and transmits its data via radio back to a search plane.

Houston has expressed optimism about the sounds detected earlier in the week, saying Wednesday that he was hopeful crews would find the aircraft - or what's left of it - in the "not-too-distant future."

Separately, a Malaysian government official said Thursday that investigators have concluded the pilot spoke the last words to air traffic control, "Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero," and that his voice had no signs of duress. A re-examination of the last communication from the cockpit was initiated after authorities last week reversed their initial statement that the co-pilot was speaking different words.

The senior government official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.


Gelineau reported from Sydney. Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
AsianPlanet April 11 2014 at 11:14 AM

This is the 1st Malaysian Airlines crash in 31 years.
Very few airlines or car drivers can beat that.

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dccb3 April 11 2014 at 8:53 AM

wow. 4.5 kilometers is nearly 3 miles below the surface of the ocean.

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SumBreezeHuh April 11 2014 at 11:36 AM

The conspiracy theories are getting reallllly old. They are telling you that these are DEFINITELY pings from the boxes. They've known it for days. They have narrowed down the original search areas tenfold as of today. Look at any of the graphs showing the search areas in the last couple of weeks, and especially since they first heard the first pings. My god, peeps, get a life. The plane crashed. It's in the ocean. It's not some fake black boxes planted there - this is the plane. Eventually, hopefully, we will learn what transpired to make this plane crash, but it's not sitting on Diego, it's not covered under the jungle brush in Somalia, and it's not in an underground hangar in some other country. smh

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1 reply
trappersnapp SumBreezeHuh April 11 2014 at 12:07 PM

Then why is the actual "ping" search area getting bigger, not smaller...I am w/you on BS conspiracy theories, but I will believe nothing until they're bringing up parts of the plane...

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gina24lt April 10 2014 at 10:43 PM

The lack of any cell phone or plane phone use is also odd. At some point, they were at a sustained altitude where they would have been able to use their mobile phones. Unless the entertainment system was switched off, the planes phones would have been operable.

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5 replies
tsr5112 April 11 2014 at 11:05 AM

It looks like they have their own shoulder patches.

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pepperoni0 April 11 2014 at 10:52 AM

Since there are no confirmed sightings of debris (flotsam), I'm skeptical that the pings being heard are going to lead to finding this aircraft. There should be indntifiable pieces of the aircraft if it crashed into the ocean.....seat cushions, and other buoyant remnants to be found in the waters where the plane went down. Even though it's been month since the plane went down there should be pieces of it turning up, and they haven't found any such debris. Makes you wonder.

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dkitch1016 April 11 2014 at 10:44 AM

with all thats going on in the states. Mud slides why hasn’t our government aided with hi tech equipment to search for survivors .. China doesn’t give a blank about American citizens

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1 reply
Mark dkitch1016 April 11 2014 at 11:26 AM

Yes they do as long as we keep buying their products American citizens are very important to them even if only as cash cows!

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cmax383666 April 10 2014 at 10:50 PM

W4e can communicate with planets but we cannot place a call here on this planet.Why would the box send out a signal that could be confused.

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2 replies
potmind cmax383666 April 10 2014 at 11:27 PM

NSA should be sent to do the listening.

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1 reply
sanurse68 potmind April 11 2014 at 5:01 AM

Where's Snowden

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CalSailor cmax383666 April 11 2014 at 12:50 AM

cmax...the boxes put out a signal which is deliberately not something you find in nature, one land or in the sea. It is sort of a clicking or metal striking metal sound...the issue seems to be holding the signal long enough to locate it. For example, one of the ships early on had a towed array; which means they can't just turn quickly. They have to gradually circle so that they don't pull it into the propellers. So they would get the ping, then try and reverse to get it again; but that's very iffy process.

Pr Chris

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cmax383666 April 10 2014 at 10:52 PM

Who were the two unidentified flyers?

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1 reply
CalSailor cmax383666 April 11 2014 at 12:46 AM

apparently immigrants working their way to rejoin family. In one case, the man's mother was waiting for him in Germany.

Pr Chris

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WolfMurman April 11 2014 at 11:43 AM

As an added benefit to them, you can bet the Chinese are watching and studying the equipment and techniques used in this search. Pouring over all the bits of info being reported, in the media and other channels. What has a direct military application and what doesn't. They undoubtedly, want to know about all the underwater search equipment available, and techniques used by western navies, to someday keep their subs well hidden and alive, and to do their own underwater hunting. They're the Chinese, they steal, copy, or reverse engineer everything, it's what they do best. "Loose lips, sink ships."......still applies in this day and age.

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1 reply
mestranger2all WolfMurman April 11 2014 at 12:15 PM

You hit the nail on the head for sure they definitely want to recon when ever they get a chance such as this. To bad for them its not going to be easy as they think. One of our assets is that huge plane that they keep showing yet has few if any windows for searchers to look out. Why wouldn't they want to see outside. That plane is known to be a sub locator that works closely with our subs to detect others. What's on that plane is big time classified but what no other nation has that I know of is that it can communicate with our subs fully submersed witch you use to have to come up for that. Now the subs we deploy. 2 types the Ohio and the Virginia both nuclear powered and both have stealth technology. I f you look at subs you never see windows they use ultrasound waves and radar to navigate the deep blue. The sub sends out a wave or pulse of some sort and then wait for it to bounce off a artifact and return then calculates where and how far that object is so they can keep from hitting it. When the enemy sub tries to use this technology its outdated and useless cause we have stealth. The details to what makes them that way is classified to the most part but few things are known. It has a protective layer of exoskeleton film that absorbs these pulse for the most part and the ones that don't get absorbed the shape of the sub allows the wave to wrap around the sub similar to aerodynamics with cars in a wind tunnel so the enemy sub does not get a return so there is no calculation or way for to detect us. Nuclear ability makes it easy to be submersed for months to years I bet and that China should fear

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