April 7, 2014 10:12:20 AM
PERTH, Australia -- Underwater sounds detected by a ship searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes, an Australian official said today, dubbing it "a most promising lead" in the month-long hunt for the vanished plane.
Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search, warned that it could take days to confirm whether the signals picked up by the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield are indeed from the black boxes that belonged to Flight 370, but called the discovery very encouraging.
"Clearly this is a most promising lead, and probably in the search so far, it's probably the best information that we have had," Houston said at a news conference. "We've got a visual indication on a screen and we've also got an audible signal -- and the audible signal sounds to me just like an emergency locator beacon."
After a month-long search for answers filled with dead ends, today's news brought fresh hope given that the two black boxes, which contain flight data and cockpit voice recordings, are the key to unraveling exactly what happened to Flight 370 and why.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammudin Hussein told reporters that in light of the new information, "We are cautiously hopeful that there will be a positive development in the next few days, if not hours."
The beacons' batteries last only about a month -- and Tuesday marks exactly one month since the plane disappeared.
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