A black box detector deployed by the vessel Haixun 01 picked up
the "ping" signal at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101
degrees east longitude, Xinhua said. It has not been established
whether the ping is related to the disappeared Flight MH370.
Xinhua further said a Chinese air force plane spotted a number of
white floating objects in the search area.
Malaysia said on Saturday it had launched an investigation into the
March 8 disappearance of MH370 that would comprise experts from
around the world, while the huge hunt for the Boeing 777 airliner
intensified in the Indian Ocean.
Authorities have not ruled out mechanical problems as a cause but
say the evidence, including the loss of communications, suggests
Flight MH370 was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometers
(miles) from its scheduled route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Defense and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a
news conference that Australia, China, the United States, the United
Kingdom and France had agreed to send representatives to take part
in the investigation.
The extensive search and rescue operation has so far included assets
from around 26 countries.
Under International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations, the
country where the aircraft is registered leads the investigation
when the incident takes place in international waters.
A spokesman from the U.N. agency told Reuters that it received
official notification of the accident on 28 March, meaning that the
investigation was considered officially launched on that date.
Hishammuddin said that the investigation would be made up of three
groups: An "airworthiness" group would examine maintenance records,
structures and systems; an "operations" group would study flight
recorders, operations and meteorology; and a "medical and human
factors" group would look into psychology, pathology and survival
The Malaysian government has also set up ministerial committees to
oversee everything pertaining to the next of kin of the 239
passengers and crew on board the aircraft, the appointment of the
investigation team and the deployment of assets in the search
EXTENSIVE SEARCH CONTINUES
Searchers on Saturday launched the most intensive hunt yet in the
southern Indian Ocean, trying to find the plane's black box
recorders before their batteries run out.
Up to 10 military planes, three civilian jets and 11 ships were
scouring a 217,000-sq-km (88,000-sq-mile) patch of desolate ocean
some 1,700 km (1,060 miles) northwest of Perth near where
investigators believe the plane went down a month ago.
"If we haven't found anything in six weeks, we will continue because
there are a lot of things in the aircraft that will float," Retired
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the head of the Australian agency
coordinating the operation, told reporters.
"Eventually I think something will be found that will help us narrow
the search area."
[to top of second column]
Dozens of flights by a multinational taskforce have so far failed to
turn up any trace of the plane.
The Boeing 777 was briefly picked up on military radar on the other
side of Malaysia and analysis of subsequent hourly electronic
"handshakes" exchanged with a satellite led investigators to
conclude the plane crashed far off the west Australian coast hours
Sonar equipment on two ships joining the search may help find the
plane's black box voice and data recorders that are key to unlocking
what happened on the flight. The black box is equipped with a
locator beacon that transmits "pings" when underwater, but its
batteries may only last 30 days.
Australian authorities said the so-called Towed Pinger Locator will
be pulled behind navy ship HMAS Ocean Shield, searching a converging
course on a 240-km (150-mile) track with British hydrographic survey
ship HMS Echo.
Experts have warned the Towed Pinger Locator may be of little use
unless investigators can get a much better idea of exactly where the
plane went into the water, because its limited range and the slow
speed at which it must be pulled behind the ship mean it cannot
cover large areas of ocean quickly.
"I won't even call it an area. What we are doing is we are tracking
down the best estimate of the course that the aircraft was on," U.S.
Navy Captain Mark Matthews told Reuters. "It takes a couple of days
on each leg so its a slow-going search."
Britain is also sending HMS Tireless, a Trafalgar-class nuclear
submarine with sonar capabilities, and a Malaysian frigate was due
to arrive in the search area on Saturday.
Malaysian authorities have faced heavy criticism, particularly from
China, for mismanaging the search and holding back information. Most
of the 227 passengers were Chinese.
(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, Niluksi Koswanage in
Kuala Lumpur, Jane Wardell in Sydney; writing by Siva Govindasamy
and Lincoln Feast; editing by Nick Macfie, Raissa Kasolowsky and
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