Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said Saturday that the search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight has been narrowed down, even as time is running out before the plane's blackbox stops pinging.
"Yes, we have narrowed down the search area. But trying to locate anything 4.5 km beneath the surface of the ocean, about 1,000 km from land is a massive task and it is likely to continue for a long time to come," Abbot said Saturday at a press conference in Beijing.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) had narrowed down the overall search area to 41,393 square km from Friday's search area of 46,713, WA Today reported.
The signals are fast fading and the search crews are rapidly trying to detect more pings from the blackbos in the narrowed search area in the coming days.
Early Saturday, both by air and sea, the search crews scoured a remote area of the Indian Ocean about 41,393 square km in size, the centre of the range located about 2,331 km northwest of Perth.
Nine military aircraft, a civilian jet and 14 ships have been depolyed in Saturday's search.
"Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield continues more focused sweeps with the Towed Pinger Locator to try and locate further signals related to the aircraft's black boxes," Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC) of Australia stated.
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-3C Orion aircraft detected a suspicious signal Thursday in the vicinity of the ADV Ocean Shield.
Up to 14 planes and 13 ships joined in Thursday's search for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, missing since March 8.
"The Australian Joint Acoustic Analysis Centre has analysed the acoustic data and confirmed that the signal reported in the vicinity of the ADV Ocean Shield is unlikely to be related to the aircraft's black box," JACC chief Angus Houstonn said.
According to JACC figures, the ADV Ocean Shield is narrowing down the search area from 75,000 square km to 57,923 km, which lies approximately 2,280 km northwest of Perth.
Except for the search operation on the ocean surface, the underwater search also continues, with the Ocean Shield at the northern end of the defined search area, and Chinese ships Haixun 01 and HMS Echo at the southern end.
Two separate signals were detected Sunday by a US pinger locator being towed by the ADV Ocean Shield in the Indian Ocean search area, about 1,700 km northwest of Perth.
The first detection of the signal lasted for two hours and 20 minutes. After a few hours, the second signal was detected which lasted for 13 minutes.
The two signals were about 1800 metres apart.
The ADV Ocean Shield detection Sunday came shortly after a Chinese patrol vessel, the Haixun One Zero, reported detecting two pulse signals Friday night, and then again Saturday at a frequency consistent with black box technology.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight March 8.
The Boeing 777-200ER was scheduled to land in Beijing the same day. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.