Flight 370: Australian Vessel Picks Up Ping in Indian Ocean, Moves to Investigate
Area of ‘Highest Probability’ Near Chinese Vessel
As the first month of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner draws to a close, Australian officials said they had detected pulse signals in the southern Indian Ocean, one day following a similar report by Chinese authorities.
An Royal Australian Navy vessel, the Ocean Shield, picked up a separate pulse signal Sunday approximately 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers) from its location, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the chief coordinator of Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre, which is managing the search for the missing plane, told reporters. The ship will investigate the “acoustic event” but will be redirected to help investigate the Chinese reports of a ping if nothing is found.
The HMS Echo, a British Royal Navy hydrographic survey ship, is being redirected to help the Chinese vessel in its search.
The chief marshal also said that a new assessment of satellite data now shows that the missing Boeing 777 traveled further than had been previously thought and that a greater emphasis was being placed on searching the southern part of the current search area.
“The search area doesn’t change so it’s not a big change – not the sort of changes we had early in the operation,” said Chief Marshal Houston. “But the area of highest probability we think is now probably in the southern part of the area pretty close to where Haixun 01 is operating.”
Experts caution that it is impossible to determine at this time whether the pings that were heard were coming from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. Last week, Australian authorities reminded the world that there could be many sources for the pings, including whales.
The pings that have been heard so far have been weak and not continuous, although signals will become stronger when investigators get closer to the flight data and voice recorders, provided that they are still transmitting their emergency signals. The chief air marshal also gave a “word of caution” on Sunday, reminding the media that “there may be leads such as the one I am reporting you this morning” on a regular basis and, for the sake of the passengers’ families, it would be helpful for the media not to get unduly carried away with speculation.
UPDATE 1 –April 8, 2014 AT 12:56 P.M. EDT
The article has been updated to reflect the additional information that has become available during the day including additional comments by Australian officials.