Searchers hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet raced toward a patch of the southern Indian Ocean today to determine whether a few brief sounds picked up by underwater equipment came from the plane's black boxes, whose battery-powered pingers are on the verge of dying out. Ships scouring a remote stretch of water for the plane that vanished nearly a month ago detected three separate sounds over three days. A Chinese ship picked up an electronic pulsing signal on Friday and again yesterday, and an Australian ship carrying sophisticated deep-sea acoustic equipment detected a signal in a different area today, the head of the multinational search said.
But some questioned whether any of the sounds were a breakthrough in finding Flight 370 or just another dead end in a hunt seemingly full of them, with experts expressing doubt that the equipment aboard the Chinese ship was capable of picking up signals from the black boxes. "This is an important and encouraging lead, but one which I urge you to treat carefully," said Angus Houston, a retired Australian marshal coordinating the search. He warned that the sounds were "fleeting, fleeting acoustic events," not the more extended transmissions that would be expected. "There are lots of noises in the ocean, and sometimes the acoustic equipment can rebound, echo if you like." Click for more on the story. (Read more Flight 370 stories.)