The Australian ship Ocean Shield picked up fresh signals that officials hope are locator beacons from the data recorders of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The ship had first picked up the underwater pulses Saturday. But then, for the next three days, nothing.
On Tuesday, the ship once again reacquired the signals. That’s four signals in the same broad area: two on Saturday; two on Tuesday.
“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370,” Houston said.
The second piece of good news? Authorities analyzed the signals picked up Saturday and determined they were not of
natural origin and was likely sourced from specific electronic equipment.
“They believe the signals to be consistent with the specification and description of a flight data recorder,” Houston said.
Signals getting weaker
Wednesday is Day 33 in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing March 8. It was carrying 239 people.
Authorities haven’t given up trying. Instead, they are pinning their hopes on the so-pings.
But time is not on their side.
The batteries powering the flight recorders’ locator beacons are certified to be working for 30 days. Stored in a plane’s tail, they are designed to begin sending off distinct, high-pitched signals as soon as they come in contact with water.
“The signals are getting weaker. Which means we’re either moving away from the search area or the pinger batteries are dying,” Houston said.
The first signal, at 4:45 p.m. Perth Time on Saturday, lasted 2 hours 20 minutes.
The second, at 9:27 p.m. Saturday, lasted 13 minutes.
The third signal was picked up Tuesday at 4:27 p.m. That lasted 5 minutes 32 seconds.
The fourth, at 10:17 p.m. Tuesday, was 7 minutes long.
“It’s certainly encouraging that more signals have been detected,” Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby told CNN.
“There is still much work to do, however.”
Discovery of possible ‘locator beacon’ pulses gives hope
Wednesday’s search includes up to 11 military planes, four civilian aircraft as well as 14 ships — three of which, Australia’s Ocean Shield further north and the British HMS Echo and Chinese Haixun 01 to the south — will be focusing underwater.
All told, everyone involved will be scouring a 29,000-square-mile zone centered about 1,400 miles northwest of Perth, according to Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre. That’s large and challenging, but still pales in comparison to the once nearly 3 million miles, at sea and on land, the searchers were scouring for signs of the lost aircraft a few weeks ago.
Kevin McEvoy, a New Zealand air force commodore involved in the effort, noted that authorities once “didn’t even know which haystack” to look in for the aircraft.
“I think we have got a much clearer picture around the areas that we need to concentrate on,” McEvoy told CNN’s Erin Burnett from Auckland.