There is no confirmation yet that the “pings” have come from the missing flight but search coordinator Angus Houston (pictured) said that their discovery was an “important and encouraging” lead.

He cautioned however the signals were “fleeting encounters” that could not be verified until the arrival of British naval ship HMS Echo and Australian defence vessel Ocean Shield.

He urged, “I have made clear, that these signals and the objects could not be verified as connected to the missing aircraft… that remains the case.”

Chinese search teams had picked up the first signal on Saturday morning.

The batteries in the black box run out after 30 days. While there is some after life in them, time is running out – the plane went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board.

Image via Getty