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Australian ship detects new signals as plane hunt narrows

PERTH, Australia--Two fresh signals have been picked up in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes Wednesday that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.

Australian ship Ocean Shield detected the signals Tuesday to match a pair of transmissions picked up over the weekend that have been analyzed as consistent with signals from the plane's flight data recorder, the head of the search said.

“Ocean Shield has been able to reacquire the signals on two more occasions, late yesterday afternoon and later last night,” said Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre.

The Australian ship has now picked up four transmissions, crucial information as searchers try to pinpoint the crash zone for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.

Officials had feared that the signals which were initially picked up might not be detected again, particularly since the batteries on the black box tracking beacons have a normal lifespan of about 30 days.

The new transmissions, found in the same broad area as the previous two, lasted for five minutes and 32 seconds and about seven minutes respectively, Houston said.

“Yesterday's signals will assist in better defining a reduced and much more manageable search area on the ocean floor,” Houston said.

“I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify the aircraft before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370.”

Australia confirmed Wednesday that the first signals were consistent with black box recorders and that the search was narrowing.

“The analysis determines that a very stable distinct and clear signal was detected at 33.331 kHz and that it consistently pulsed at a 1.106 second interval,” Houston said.

“They believe the signals to be consistent with the specification and description of a flight data recorder.”

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