Robot submersible won't be deployed until another signal is detected: MH370 search chief

The Australian Navy ship HMAS Success (in the foreground) performing a replenishment at sea evolution with the Royal Malaysian Navy ship KD Lekiu, providing it with more fuel during the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH37
The Australian Navy ship HMAS Success (in the foreground) performing a replenishment at sea evolution with the Royal Malaysian Navy ship KD Lekiu, providing it with more fuel during the continuing search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 on April 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 special report

PERTH (AFP) - 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 on Tuesday.

"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," Mr Angus Houston said.

"Until we stop the pinger search we will not deploy the submersible."

Describing sonic "pings" picked up by the naval vessel Ocean Shield as the "most promising lead" so far, Mr Houston said at a press briefing: "There is still some doubt. But I'm more optimistic than I was one week ago."

MH370 Recovery graphic

Speaking at the same news conference, Australian Defence Minister David Johnston thanked all nations involved in the search, calling the multi-nation cooperation "absolutely first class".

Up to eleven military planes, three civilian planes and 14 ships are taking part on Tuesday in the unprecedented search 2,200 kilometres northwest of Perth.

The apparent signals breakthrough came as the clock ticks past the 30-day lifespan of the emergency beacons of the two data recorders from the Malaysia Airlines jet, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

MH370 Sequence of events map

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