Australia: Signal Heard by China Ship Is “Consistent” With Black Box, Link to MH370 Uncertain

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 5 2014 3:51 PM

Australia: Signal Heard by China Ship Is “Consistent” With Black Box, Link to MH370 Uncertain

Crew members monitor TAC stations onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia

Photo by Nick Perry/AFP/Getty Images

In news that could provide a fresh new clue—and narrow the search area—on the location of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Chinese ship reportedly detected a “pulse signal” that emits at the same frequency as the plane’s data recorders. Early Sunday, Australian authorities that are coordinating the search efforts said the signal would be “consistent” with the signal of a black box, but there is no evidence yet to definitively link it to MH370, reports Reuters. Still, the “pings,” which were detected near a field of objects floating in the water, “offered investigators … the tantalizing hope that they may have caught a break,” notes CNN.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said a ship picked up a “pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5kHz,” which would be consistent with a black box, although an expert tells the Associated Press it could also be “an aberrant signal” from a nuclear submarine. Still, if verified it would help reduce the search are to around four square miles.  


News that a Chinese ship had detected the “ping” also raised questions about whether the search operations are being successfully coordinated between the different countries, notes the Los Angeles Times. It isn’t clear whether Australian authorities even counted the Chinese ship that detected the signal as one that was participating in the search operations. In fact, Australian authorities had failed to mention that there was a Chinese ship that had a black-box pinger detector.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.


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