Australia ‘confident’ signals are from MH370

The search has been narrowed down, but suspected signals from the back box are starting to fade, says Australia’s PM

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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday that search teams were “very confident” that signals detected in the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 were from the aircraft’s black box, but cautioned this does not amount to recovering the wreckage.

“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,” Abbott said from China.

He added: “Still, confidence in the approximate position of the black box is not the same as recovering wreckage from almost four and a half kilometers beneath the sea or finally determining all that happened on the flight.”

Malaysia Airlines MASM.KL Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, vanished on March 8 and is believed to have flown thousands of kilometers off its Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing route and into the Indian Ocean.

Australia has been leading the search for the Boeing 777 aircraft.

More than 100 flights over the remote area off western Australia have so far failed to return a single piece of debris from the plane, but four signals or “pings” linked to aircraft beacons have been detected by an Australian ship.

The first two of these, which were picked up by the Australian vessel Ocean Shield using U.S. equipment, have been analyzed as being consistent with those from black box data recorders.

Speaking in Shanghai, Abbott said the search area had now been “very much narrowed down because we’ve now had a series of detections, some for quite a long period of time.”

“Nevertheless, we’re getting to the stage where the signal from what we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade,” he said in comments broadcast on Sky News.

“We are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires.”

Abbott said he did not want to go into any further detail until he had briefed Chinese President Xi Jinping on the investigation. Some two-thirds of the 239 people onboard Flight MH370 were Chinese.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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