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“I have been advised that a series of sounds have been detected by a Chinese ship in the search area. The characteristics reported are consistent with the aircraft black box,” Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the joint agency coordinating the operation, said in a statement late on Saturday.
Earlier, Chinese search vessel Haixun 01 said a black box detector deployed on board picked up a signal at 37.5Hz per second around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude.
The signal could be the biggest lead yet for rescuers who have combed thousands of aquatic miles to find the missing plane.
Last week, investigators searching for MH370 said that there were only a few days worth of battery life left in the black box signaling system.
Meanwhile, debris found last week in the southern Indian Ocean by Australian rescue aircraft turned out to be parts of discarded fishing equipment.
So far, 10 aircraft and 10 naval vessels from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, South Korea, the United States and Malaysia have been combing thousands of square kilometers of water for three weeks.