An Australian plane, deployed to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, detected a possible signal in the same area of the southern Indian Ocean where a ship had previously heard pings, officials announced, lending fresh hope to the search, which entered its thirty-fourth day on Thursday.
According to Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, or JACC, a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft detected the possible signal on Thursday while conducting an acoustic search in a remote area of the Indian Ocean where the Australian defense ship Ocean Shield had earlier detected pings on Tuesday.
“The acoustic data will require further analysis overnight but shows potential of being from a man-made source,” Angus Houston, a retired senior officer of the Royal Australian Air Force who is leading the search, said in a statement. “I will provide a further update if, and when, further information becomes available.”
The latest finding by the plane comes after the vessel Ocean Shield picked up four separate pings over the last five days, which, according to Houston, are consistent with those from beacons on flight data recorders, also known as black boxes, Bloomberg reported.
Houston said on Wednesday that the new signals are helping to significantly narrow the search area to deploy a robot submarine to scour the ocean floor for signs of the plane, which went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board and is suspected to have crashed after running out of fuel.
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According to JACC, 10 military aircraft, four civil aircraft and 13 ships assisted Thursday’s efforts, after the search area was narrowed to 57,923 square kilometers (22,364 square miles), the JACC said in a statement. The center of the search area now lies about 1,400 miles northwest of Perth.
“Aircraft and ships reported spotting a large number of objects during yesterday's search, but only a small number were able to be recovered. None of the recovered items were believed to be associated with MH370,” JACC said on Thursday.