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Underwater vessel set to search for missing plane

PERTH, Australia - The hunt for missing Malaysian Flight MH370 could soon head to the ocean floor using an autonomous sonar vessel after possible black box signals were detected, the head of the Australian-led search operation said Tuesday.

A month to the day since the Boeing 777 disappeared, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston warned that hopes of finding surface debris were fading and that sonic "pings" detected by the Australian naval ship Ocean Shield were the best lead.

Houston told ABC radio Tuesday that once the position of the signals was pinpointed, autonomous underwater vessel Bluefin-21 would be deployed to the ocean floor to search for wreckage.

And this could happen soon.

"I haven’t had the discussion this morning, we’ll be having that discussion a little later on," he told ABC radio.

"I imagine we’d be getting very close to that point."

The search is now focusing on a 600-kilometre (370-mile) arc of the southern Indian Ocean, far off the West Australian coast.

AFP




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