Australia on Sunday, April 6, sent planes and ships to investigate signals detected by a Chinese ship in the hunt for a missing Malaysian jet, saying they matched black box beacons and were an “important and encouraging lead.” China’s Haixun 01 vessel twice detected an underwater signal on a frequency used for flight data and cockpit voice recorders. A third ping was also being scrutinized by the Australian vessel Ocean Shield. Britain’s HMS Echo and the Ocean Shield – both equipped with black box locators – and Australian air force planes are in the area to help discount or confirm the signals. But Australia, which is leading the search off its coast, cautioned that the information was preliminary and could yield nothing helpful. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people aboard vanished on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No debris has yet been found despite extensive aerial and sea searches, prompting authorities to switch to undersea acoustic surveillance in hopes of finding the aircraft.
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