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Hunt for MH370 'pings' to go on for days before sub launch

The search involves up to 11 military planes, three civilian planes and 14 ships.

China Malaysia Plane Source: AP/Press Association Images

THE HUNT FOR underwater signals from missing Flight MH370 is likely to continue for days before a robot submersible is deployed to comb the seabed, the Australian search chief said today.

The detection of sonic pings consistent with those emitted by aircraft black box recorders had raised hopes that a submersible would soon be sent down to the ocean floor.

However, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said more signals were first needed and acoustic listening would continue until the batteries powering the emissions had expired.

Malaysia Plane Source: AP/Press Association Images

“We need to continue that (search) for several days to the point at which there is absolutely no doubt that the pinger batteries will have expired,” Angus Houston said. “Until we stop the pinger search we will not deploy the submersible.”

Further signals would help to focus the hunt for a possible crash site, he said.

“If we can get more transmissions we can get a better fix on the ocean floor which will enable a much more narrowly focused visual search for wreckage,” he said.

Malaysia Plane Source: AP/Press Association Images

Houston said no further transmissions had been detected in the remote search area off western Australia which could help pinpoint where the jet carrying 239 people is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.

“We need another transmission to better refine the area,” Houston added.

Up to 11 military planes, three civilian planes and 14 ships are taking part today in the unprecedented search 2,268 kilometres northwest of Perth, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) said.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: MH370: What do we know? What have we yet to find out?>

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