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2 new pings sound ‘just like’ black box beacons

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A Chinese Ilyushin IL-76s aircraft touches down at Perth International Airport after returning from search operations for wreckage and debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Perth, Australia, Monday, April 7, 2014. Underwater sounds detected by a ship searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes, an Australian official said Monday, dubbing it “a most promising lead” in the monthlong hunt for the vanished plane. Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search, warned that it could take days to confirm whether the signals picked up by the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield are indeed from the black boxes that belonged to Flight 370, but called the discovery very encouraging. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

A Chinese Ilyushin IL-76s aircraft touches down at Perth International Airport after returning from search operations for wreckage and debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Perth, Australia, Monday, April 7, 2014. Underwater sounds detected by a ship searching the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes, an Australian official said Monday, dubbing it “a most promising lead” in the monthlong hunt for the vanished plane. Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search, warned that it could take days to confirm whether the signals picked up by the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield are indeed from the black boxes that belonged to Flight 370, but called the discovery very encouraging. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

A Chinese Ilyushin IL-76s aircraft taxies along the tarmac at Perth International Airport after returning from search operations for wreckage and debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Monday, April 7, 2014. It’s not a question most governments involved in the hunt for Flight 370 care to answer: How much has the far-flung, month-long search cost? Several Chinese ships and planes have been involved in the search, but China’s foreign ministry did not respond to questions about the expense of the effort. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

The chief coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Center retired Chief Air Marshall Angus Houston shows a map to the media during a press conference about the on going search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, Australia, Monday, April 7, 2014. Houston reported the towed pinger locator deployed from the Ocean Shield has detected two signals consistent with those emitted by an in flight back box recorder, in the northern part of the current search area in the southern Indian Ocean. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

This image provided by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre on Monday, April 7, 2014, shows a map indicating the locations of search vessels looking for signs of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. An Australian official overseeing the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane said underwater sounds picked up by equipment on an Australian navy ship are consistent with transmissions from black box recorders on a plane. (AP Photo/Joint Agency Coordination Centre) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

In this April 4, 2014, photo provided by the Australian Defense Force, the Australian Defense vessel Ocean Shield tows a pinger locator in the first search for the missing flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder in the southern Indian Ocean. Ocean Shield, which is carrying high-tech sound detectors from the U.S. Navy, was investigating a sound it picked up. (AP Photo/Australian Defense Force, Lt. Kelly Lunt) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

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PERTH, Australia (AP) — An Australian ship detected two distinct, long-lasting sounds underwater that are consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes in a major break in the monthlong hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, the search coordinator said Monday.

Navy specialists were urgently trying to pick up the signal again so they can triangulate its position and go to the next step of sending an unmanned miniature submarine into the depths to try to identify plane wreckage.

Confirmation that the signals picked up by the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield belong to Flight 370′s black boxes could take days, but the discovery offers “a most promising lead” yet, said Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the multinational search. They were stronger and lasted longer than faint signals a Chinese ship reported hearing farther south in the search zone in the remote Indian Ocean.

“Clearly this is a most promising lead, and probably in the search so far, it’s probably the best information that we have had,” Houston said at a news conference. “We’ve got a visual indication on a screen and we’ve also got an audible signal — and the audible signal sounds to me just like an emergency locator beacon.”

After a monthlong search for answers filled with dead ends, Monday’s news brought fresh hope given that the two black boxes, which contain flight data and cockpit voice recordings, are the key to unraveling exactly what happened to Flight 370 and why.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammudin Hussein told reporters that in light of the new information, “We are cautiously hopeful that there will be a positive development in the next few days, if not hours.”

Little time is left to locate the devices, which have beacons that emit “pings” so they can be more easily found. The beacons’ batteries last only about a month — and Tuesday marks exactly one month since the plane disappeared during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The Ocean Shield, which is carrying high-tech sound detectors from the U.S. Navy, picked up two separate signals late Saturday night and early Sunday morning in seas far off the west Australian coast that search crews have been crisscrossing for weeks. The first signal lasted two hours and 20 minutes before it

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