A British ship equipped to locate a jet's black boxes arrived in the area where a Chinese patrol ship detected a signal that could have come from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the chief coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Center, said Sunday in Perth, Australia, that the pulses remain unverified. Still, he said, the signals were "an important and encouraging lead" in the search for the jet.
The first signal was detected Saturday by a "black box detector" deployed by Chinese ship Haixun 01 in the Indian Ocean. The pulse was picked up around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude, according to China's official news agency, Xinhua.
Sunday, Haixun 01 reported it had detected the signal again for 90 seconds within 1.4 miles of the original signal.
The Australian vessel Ocean Shield, equipped with U.S. detection equipment, investigated a separate acoustic detection, Houston said.
The race is on to find the two boxes before the batteries die and the boxes no longer emit a signal. The batteries generally last 30 to 45 days.
The Boeing 777, which had 239 people aboard, lost communication with civilian air controllers soon after it took off early March 8 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia. No emergency signals or distress messages were received before the jet vanished from radar.
The latest pings revived hope that the jet — or its wreckage — and the black boxes could be found soon. The cockpit voice recordings and flight data could shed light on the mysterious disappearance that has dominated global news for a month.
"We have an acoustic event. The job now is to determine the significance of that event. It does not confirm or deny the presence of the aircraft locator on the bottom of the ocean," Houston said, referring to each of the three transmissions.
Xinhua reported Saturday that a Chinese air force plane spotted a number of white floating objects 56 miles from the signal site in the search area, which is northwest of Perth.
"I (have) made clear, that these signals and the objects could not be verified as connected to the missing aircraft … that remains the case," Houston said.
He said the characteristics of the sounds reported by the Chinese are "consistent with the aircraft black box."
CNN, citing a senior Malaysian government source Sunday, said Flight 370 flew around Indonesian airspace after it disappeared from Malaysian military radar. The jet may have been intentionally avoiding radar detection, the source told CNN.
Up to 10 military planes, two civil planes and 13 ships assisted in Sunday's search for the jet, according to the Joint Agency Coordination Center.
Three separate search areas, which total approximately 83,000 square miles, were viewed Sunday about 1,243 miles northwest of Perth.
As the search for the missing jet reaches nearly one month with no results, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Saturday announced the creation of a multinational investigation team and said the hunt would continue with "vigor and intensity."
Malaysia will continue to lead the investigation, yet an independent "investigator in charge" will be appointed to head a new investigation team, he said.
That multinational team will examine three main areas related to the missing jetliner. It will look at airworthiness, including maintenance, structures and systems; operations, such as flight recorders and meteorology; and medical and human factors such as "psychology, pathology and survival factors," he said.
The team will include representatives from Australia, as well as China, the United States, Britain and France, Hussein said.
A prayer service Sunday in Kuala Lumpur for families of passengers aboard the missing jet drew thousands of supporters.
"This is not a prayer for the dead, because we have not found bodies," said Liow Tiong Lai, president of the government coalition party that organized the two-hour session. "This is a prayer for blessings and that the plane will be found."
Contributing: The Associated Press