Malaysia says it ‘will not stop looking’ for jet

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A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail takes off from Perth Airport to take part in search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Saturday, April 5, 2014. The air and sea search has not turned up any wreckage from the Boeing 777 that could lead searchers to the plane and perhaps its flight data and cockpit voice recorders, or “black boxes.” (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail takes off from Perth Airport to take part in search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Perth, Australia, Saturday, April 5, 2014. The air and sea search has not turned up any wreckage from the Boeing 777 that could lead searchers to the plane and perhaps its flight data and cockpit voice recorders, or “black boxes.” (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Pilots look out of a window from the cockpit in a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon plane as it taxies to the end of the runway to take off from Perth Airport on route to conduct search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

A U.S. Navy plane P-8 Poseidon takes off from Perth Airport on route to conduct search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

A woman ties a message card for passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, April 5, 2014. Search teams racing against time to find the flight recorders from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet crisscrossed another patch of the Indian Ocean on Saturday, four weeks to the day after the airliner vanished. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Sergeant Adam Coats gets some well deserved rest onboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion after they completed almost four hours of search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, Friday, April 4, 2014. Ten military planes, four civil jets and nine ships will assist in the search today of 217,000 square kilometers, 1700kms north west of Perth.(AP Photo/Nick Perry/Pool)

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PERTH, Australia (AP) — Malaysia vowed Saturday that it would not give up on trying to find the missing jetliner and announced details of a multinational investigation team to solve the aviation mystery, as the search for the plane entered its fifth week.

Military and civilian planes, ships with deep-sea searching equipment and a British nuclear submarine scoured a remote patch of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast, in an increasingly urgent hunt for debris and the “black box” recorders that hold vital information about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370′s last hours.

After weeks of fruitless looking, officials face the daunting prospect that sound-emitting beacons in the flight and voice recorders will soon fall silent as their batteries die after sounding electronic “pings” for a month.

China’s official news agency, Xinhua, reported late Saturday that a Chinese ship that is part of the multinational search effort detected a “pulse” signal in southern Indian Ocean waters. The report said it was not determined whether the signal was related to the missing jet.

A black box detector deployed by the vessel, Haixun 01, picked up a signal at 37.5Hz per second at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude, Xinhua said.

The Australian government agency coordinating the search would not immediately comment on the report.

The Boeing 777 disappeared March 8 while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people aboard. So far, no trace of the jet has been found.

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s defense minister and acting transport minister, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that the cost of mounting the search was immaterial compared to providing solace for the families of those on board by establishing what happened.

“I can only speak for Malaysia, and Malaysia will not stop looking for MH370,” Hishammuddin said.

At the media briefing, Hishammuddin announced that an independent investigator would be appointed and three main areas of inquiry would be pursued. One team will look at airworthiness, including maintenance, structures and systems; another will examine operations, such as flight recorders and meteorology; and a third will consider medical and human factors.

The overall investigation team will include officials and experts from Australia — which as the nearest country to the search zone is currently heading the hunt, with other nations’ help — as well as China, the United States, Britain and France, Hishammuddin said.

A multinational team is desperately trying to find debris floating in the water or faint sound signals from the data recorders that could lead them to the missing plane and unravel the mystery of its fate.

Finding floating wreckage is key to narrowing the search area, as officials can then use data on currents to backtrack to where the plane hit the water, and where the flight recorders may be.

Beacons in the black boxes emit “pings” so they can be more easily found, but the batteries last for only about a month.

Officials have said the hunt for the wreckage is among the hardest ever undertaken, and will get much harder still if the beacons fall silent before they are found.

“Where we’re at right now, four weeks since this plane disappeared, we’re much, much closer,” said aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of AirlineRatings.com. “But frustratingly, we’re still miles away from finding it. We need to find some piece of debris on the water; we need to pick up the ping.”

If it doesn’t happen, the only hope for finding the plane may be a full survey of the Indian Ocean floor, an operation that would take years and an enormous international operation.

Hishammuddin said there were no new satellite images or data that can provide new leads

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