UK & World News
Missing Plane: HMS Echo Joins Black Box Hunt
A British navy ship with sophisticated sound-locating equipment has joined a refocussed search effort to find out if signals picked up in the southern Indian Ocean are from MH370's black boxes.
The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre, at the centre of the search mission, announced at around 2am UK time that HMS Echo had arrived in the southern section of the search area to "assist" in the mission.
Sky's Alistair Bunkall said HMS Echo would begin its search after carrying out preliminary environmental tests.
"Before she starts listening for the black box, HMS Echo must basically work out what other sounds are out there to calibrate her systems," he said.
Hopes of finding the plane were boosted after Chinese ship Haixun 01 said it picked up a faint electronic pulsing signal on Friday, around 1,000 miles (1,600 km) northwest of Perth.
A second signal was picked up by the vessel on Saturday, around 1.2 miles (2 km) away, lasting for around 90 seconds.
Both signals had a "ping" of 37.5kHz frequency - the same emitted by the missing jet's black box recorders.
On Sunday, Australian navy ship Ocean Shield detected a third signal in another area about 353 miles (555 km) away.
Officials, however, have urged caution while they verify where the "pings" have come from.
Searchers are anticipating good weather today, with 12 planes and a total of 14 ships expected to scour three locations totalling around 234,000 sq km.
Once Ocean Shield has finished investigating the acoustic sound it picked up on Sunday, it will head to the area where HMS Echo is helping in the search, Australian authorities said.
The focus of today's search will be the southern section of the current search zone rather than the northern part, the authorities added.
Time is running out to locate the black boxes, which are likely to hold the key to the mystery of the jet, which left Malaysia for China on March 8, carrying 239 people on board.
The boxes have a battery life of 30 days, although Retired Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the international search, said they can continue transmitting for "several days beyond that".
But there are questions about whether any of the sounds are the breakthrough that searchers are desperately seeking or just another dead end in a hunt seemingly full of them.
Experts have expressed doubt that the equipment aboard the Chinese ship was capable of picking up signals from the black boxes.
"This is an important and encouraging lead, but one which I urge you to treat carefully," said Mr Houston.
He warned that the sounds were "fleeting, fleeting acoustic events," not the more extended transmissions that would be expected.
"We are dealing with very deep water. We are dealing with an environment where sometimes you can get false indications," he added.
"There are lots of noises in the ocean, and sometimes the acoustic equipment can rebound, echo if you like."
More to follow...