TODAY   |  April 07, 2014

Flight 370 officials have most ‘promising lead’ yet

A deployed pinger locator has detected underwater signals consistent with those omitted by aircraft black boxes. Officials are calling it the most “promising lead” yet. NBC News’ Katy Tur reports.

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>>> back to our top story. signals that are consistent with a ping's black boxes have been detected in the indian ocean . nbc's katy tur is in kuala lumpur with the latest on the investigation. katy , good morning to you.

>> reporter: hey there, matt. we told you on friday that this would be a critical weekend. and in fact, it was. a number of acoustic signals were reported, two of which coming from ocean shield and its pinger locator. this being the most significant development yet. taking off one by one, as they have been doing for a month, search planes headed to scour the indian ocean . but now, with a renewed sense of urgency and optimism from ships on the water.

>> today, i can report some very encouraging information, which has unfolded over the last 24 hours .

>> reporter: ocean shield first heard an acoustic signal sunday, lasting for two hours and 20 minutes . but lost it as the ship made a turn. then another signal, this time on the return leg, lasting for 13 minutes. two distinct sets of pings that could be consistent with two black boxes , the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder .

>> clearly, this is the most promising lead.

>> reporter: the australian ship is using a u.s. naval pinger locator, one of the most sophisticated pieces equipment out there for detecting black boxes . right now, ocean shield is searching a small corridor off the australian coast between the signals it picked up and ones a chinese ship using less sophisticated technology detected over the weekend. today is day 31 of the search for mh-370. critical timing, as the black box beacons only last around 30 days . still, no confirmation that any of the pings are connected to mh-370.

>> if they gain another acoustic event on that towed pinger locator, that will be the trigger at the moment for mapping the ocean floor .

>> reporter: basically, they are waiting for another ping so they can triangulate the position and then scan the ocean floor . this could take hours, days, weeks. there's just no telling how long it will take. but again, the most hopeful sign that we've had yet, matt.

>> katy tur in kuala lumpur .