Missing flight MH370: Royal Navy's HMS Echo joins race to verify black box 'pings' in search for missing jet in Indian Ocean

Three separate 'pings' have now been detected from deep in the Indian Ocean

As the authorities searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 race to investigate a series of potential black box 'pings' in the Indian Ocean, a senior official has reportedly claimed that the plane was "steered" around Indonesian airspace.

A senior Malaysian government source reportedly said the Boeing 777 curved north of Indonesia after it dropped of Malaysian military radar, according to further analysis of tracking data from neighbouring countries.

It apparently avoided Indonesia and its airspace altogether before turning again towards the southern Indian Ocean. The source told CNN such a route may have been taken intentionally in order to avoid radar detection.

Meanwhile, the man responsible for leading the search in Australia said that sounds detected from deep within the Indian Ocean represent an "important and encouraging lead".

Three separate signals have now been detected by ships hunting for the wreckage of the Boeing 777, two of which came from within just 2 km (1.25 miles) of each other.

The Royal Navy's HMS Echo, which carries sophisticated equipment for detecting underwater signals, was tasked with heading to the investigate the small patch of the search zone.

On Sunday, an Australian ship also equipped with a so-called "pinger locator" received a third signal in a different part of the search area around 300 nautical miles (555 km) away.

The earlier signals were reported by a Chinese patrol vessel as being at the same frequency emitted by flight data recorders aboard missing planes - 37.5 kilohertz.

"This is an important and encouraging lead, but one which I urge you to treat carefully," retired Australian Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston told reporters in Perth.

He stressed the signals had not been verified as linked to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared on 8 March with 239 people on board.

"We have an acoustic event. The job now is to determine the significance of that event. It does not confirm or deny the presence of the aircraft locator on the bottom of the ocean," Houston said, referring to each of the three transmissions.

Houston confirmed that the Chinese ship Haixun 01 detected a signal again on Saturday within 2 km (1.4 miles) of the original signal, for 90 seconds. He said that China also reported seeing white objects floating in the sea in the area. He added that HMS Echo was expected to arrive in the area within the next two days.

The Australian navy's Ocean Shield, which is carrying high-tech sound detectors from the US Navy, will also head there, but would first investigate the sound it picked up in its current region.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (right) addresses the media in Perth Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston (right) addresses the media in Perth He said Australian air force assets were also being deployed on Sunday into the Haixun 01's area to try to confirm or discount the signals relevance to the search.

After weeks of fruitless looking, the multinational search team is racing against time to find the sound-emitting beacons and cockpit voice recorders that could help unravel the mystery of the plane. The beacons in the black boxes emit "pings" so they can be more easily found, but the batteries only last for about a month.

Investigators believe Flight 370 veered way off course and came down somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, though they have not been able to explain why it did so.

The US Navy's towed pinger locator (TPL-25) sits on the deck of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield The US Navy's towed pinger locator (TPL-25) sits on the deck of the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield The Chinese crew reportedly picked up the signals using a hand-held sonar device called a hydrophone dangled over the side of a small runabout — something experts said was technically possible but extremely unlikely.

The equipment aboard the Ocean Shield and the HMS Echo are dragged slowly behind each ship over long distances and are considered far more sophisticated than those the Chinese crew was using.

Read more: Signals in Indian Ocean could be aircraft's black box
AirAsia apologises over claim that 'pilots will never lose a plane'
What is a black box and how do you find one?
UK submarine joins search for missing plane
The Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) ship MV Xaixun 01 during a visit to Australia in 2013. Crew members reported hearing signals from within the search area on Friday and Saturday The Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) ship MV Xaixun 01 during a visit to Australia in 2013. Crew members reported hearing signals from within the search area on Friday and Saturday

Footage aired on China's state-run CCTV showed crew members in the small boat with a device shaped like a large soup can attached to a pole. It was hooked up by cords to electronic equipment in a padded suitcase as they poked the device into the water.

"If the Chinese have discovered this, they have found a new way of finding a needle in a haystack," said aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of AirlineRatings.com. "Because this is amazing. And if it proves to be correct, it's an extraordinarily lucky break."

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing