PERTH, Australia (AP) — Planes and ships are resuming their search in the southern Indian Ocean for a missing Malaysian airliner.
But after a week of optimism over four underwater signals believed to be coming from the Boeing 777's black boxes, the sea has gone quiet and Australia's leader is warning that the massive search will likely be long.
No new electronic pings have been heard since April 8, and the batteries powering the locator beacons on the jet's data and voice recorders may already be dead. They only last about a month, and that window has already passed. Once officials are confident no more sounds will be heard, a robotic submersible will be sent down to slowly scour for wreckage across a vast area in extremely deep water.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says "No one should underestimate the difficulties of the task still ahead of us."
Abbott appears to be couching his earlier comments, when he met in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping to brief him on the search. He had expressed confidence that the signals heard by an Australian ship, which is towing a U.S. Navy device that listens for flight recorder pings, were coming from the black boxes