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Mystery Pulses Consistent With Black Box, But No Confirmation

Australian officials said the "pulse" signals detected by a Chinese ship searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are consistent with those of the aircraft's black box.

China's state news agencies CCTV and Xinhua reported Saturday that China's marine surveillance ship Haixun 01 picked up a signal at 37.5 kilohertz.

That frequency is currently the international standard frequency for the underwater locator beacon on a plane's black box, but Australian and U.S. officials could not verify the pulses are connected to the missing flight.

"Not proven to be linked to #MH370 yet," a post by CCTV said.

Angus Houston of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre also said the reported pulses were consistent with the Boeing 777’s black box. “However, there is no confirmation at this stage that the signals and the objects are related to the missing aircraft," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

A Shanghai Xinmin Evening News reporter aboard the Haixun 01 reported that the ship's second deputy skipper, Wei Liang, said the pulse signal detected by the ship's black box detection device was "similar to the sample pulse signal provided by Boeing."

Image: MALAYSIA-CHINA-AVIATION-AUSTRALIA-FILES
Crew members stand on the deck of China's Haixun 01 in Yangon in 2013. The Haixun detected a "pulse signal" in the southern Indian Ocean on Saturday, but there was no evidence yet that it was linked to the missing plane.YE AUNG THU / AFP - Getty Images file

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau cannot verify any relation between the pulses and the missing aircraft, Houston said.

A high-level U.S. government official also told NBC News that the reports of the detected pulse had not yet been corroborated and therefore could not be verified.

Chinese media reported that the signal was detected at a latitude of 25 degrees south and a longitude of 101 degrees east. The signal reportedly lasted for a minute and a half.

“White objects” were spotted on the surface of the water 56 miles from where the pulses were heard, Houston added.

China's Haixun 01 is the command and coordination vessel for all Chinese ships involved in the search in this area.

“The deployment of RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) assets to the area where the Chinese ship detected the sounds is being considered,” Houston said.

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Earlier Saturday, Malaysia's defense minister and acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein held a press briefing that yielded virtually no updates on the fate of the missing plane.

He announced the formation of an investigation team comprising of three committees: an airworthiness group, an operations group and a medical and human factors group.

Hussein said although the search operation has been “difficult, challenging and complex,” Malaysia’s “determination remains undiminished.”

“We will continue the search with the same level of vigor and intensity,” Hussein said.

Hussein concluded his remarks Saturday by addressing allegations that “Malaysian authorities were somehow complicit in what happened to MH370.”

“These allegations are completely untrue,” Hussein said. “The search for MH370 should be above politics.”

The Boeing 777 airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. Its planned route was from Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China.

Katy Tur and Elisha Fieldstadt of NBC News contributed to this report. Reuters also contributed.