Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Chinese patrol ship discovers pulse signal in southern Indian Ocean as plane spots white objects

Frequency matches the standard for a black box recorder

Chinese search crews have in the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have discovered a pulse signal matching that for a black box recorder, as well as a number of white floating objects in the search area, state media has reported.

A Chinese patrol ship detected the signal with a frequency of 37.5 kHz - the standard frequency for a black box recorder, while a Chinese air force plane spotted the debris in the search area.

However, there is no indication that either is from flight MH370.

"That is the standard beacon frequency for both so-called black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder," said Anish Patel, president of pinger manufacturer Dukane Seacom told CNN.

The announcement came as international crews scoured the Indian Ocean for the flight's lost black boxes before the devices stop emitting locator ‘pings’. Mayalsia’s Defence Minister stressed the search had maintained its “vigour and intensity” a month after the aircraft vanished.

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Both the Australian navy's Ocean Shield and the British HMS Echo were carrying sophisticated equipment that can hear the ‘pings’ on Saturday.

Up to 13 military and civilian planes and nine other ships were also taking part in the search, the agency coordinating the search said.

Finding floating wreckage is vital to narrowing the search area, as officials can harness data on currents to try to map where the plane hit the water, and where the flight recorders may be.

In turn, the recorders contain vital data, including clues as to why Flight MH370, along with the 239 people on board, veered off the usual course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. But the black box batteries only last a month – presenting search crews with a looming deadline.

If the signal beacons fall silent, the search will become more complicated.

During a press conference in Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein gave a statement outlining his government’s determination to locate missing MH370 and slammed critics spouting conspiracy theories.

“We will continue to focus, with all our efforts, on finding the aircraft,” he told reporters, adding: “We are resolute to find a conclusion to this tragic chapter in aviation history.”

He said there are no more new satellite images or data that can provide new leads, and the focus now is fully on searching the ocean, rather than land.

Meanwhile, Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the joint agency coordinating the operation, acknowledged the search area was essentially a best guess, and noted the time when the plane's locator beacons would shut down was "getting pretty close."

The overall search area is a 217,000-square-kilometer (84,000-square-mile) zone in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1,700 kilometers (1,100 miles) northwest of the western Australian city of Perth.

The search area has shifted each day as investigators continue to analyze what little radar and satellite data is available while factoring in where any debris may have drifted.

Australia is coordinating the ocean search, and the investigation into the plane's disappearance is Malaysia's responsibility. Australia, the US, Britain and China have all agreed to be "accredited representatives" of the investigation.

A union that represents 30,000 pilots in North America, the Air Line Pilots Association, said in a statement that the Malaysia Airlines tragedy should lead to higher standards of plane tracking technology being adopted by the airline industry.

Additional reporting by AP

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