April 9, 2014 at 3:20 PM ET
Two signals that could possibly be from the black box of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may have search leaders mapping out an area as deep as 12 Empire State buildings below the surface of the Indian Ocean in an attempt to find the wreckage of the missing plane.
The Australian ship "Ocean Shield" picked up a pair of signals on Tuesday, one lasting 5 1/2 minutes and other lasting 7 minutes. Pinpointing the signals could allow the search team to significantly narrow the area it needs to scour to potentially find the remains of the aircraft, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.
"It's consistent with a locator on a black box, so that's why we are more confident than we were before, but we've got to lay eyes on it," search coordinator Angus Houston, a retired Air Chief Marshal, told reporters at a briefing in Perth on Wednesday.
The search team is hoping to detect more signals so that it can send an unmanned submarine to map the ocean floor and look for the wreckage. The signals are coming from one of the most remote areas of the Indian Ocean, and the targeted search area could potentially be 15,000 feet below the surface.
The Titanic was found at a depth of 12,500 feet, and Air France 447, which went down in 2009, was found at 13,000 feet, both in the Atlantic Ocean. For comparison sake, the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet high.
The signal received on Tuesday was weaker than usual, which could suggest that the battery is running down on the black box as the search for the missing plane entered its 33rd day on Wednesday. The potential search area is so remote and dark that it has never been thoroughly charted, which means it could take one to three weeks just to map and photograph the ocean floor in an attempt to find the wreckage.