Searchers race to find jet; no new signals heard
PERTH, Australia (AP) -- With no new underwater signals detected, the search for the missing Malaysian passenger jet resumed Saturday in a race against time to find its dying black boxes five weeks after families first learned their loved ones never arrived at their destination.
The ocean search area has been condensed, as ships and planes hunted for any clue that could help find Flight 370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing with 239 people on board, mostly Chinese.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he was confident signals heard by an Australian ship towing a U.S. Navy device that detects flight recorder pings are coming from the Boeing 777. Officials believe the plane flew off course for an unknown reason and went down in the southern Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia.
"We're getting into the stage where the signal from what we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade," Abbott told reporters Friday in Shanghai, referring to the plane's flight data and cockpit recorders. "We are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires."
Search crews are running out of time because the batteries powering the recorders' locator beacons last only about a month, and that window has already passed. Finding the devices after the batteries fail will be extremely difficult because the water in the area is 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) deep.
Two sounds heard a week ago by the Australian ship Ocean Shield, towing the ping locator, were determined to be consistent with the signals emitted from the black boxes. Two more pings were detected in the same general area Tuesday.
"We are confident that we know the position of the black box flight recorder to within some kilometers," Abbott said. "But confidence in the approximate position of the black box is not the same as recovering wreckage from almost 4
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